eHealth Forum: Secure messaging and interoperability

Paul Hayes

23/11/2017 2:07:35 PM

General practice is moving closer to saying goodbye to the fax and hello to secure messaging, GPs learnt at the RACGP Expert Committee – eHealth and Practice Systems’ (REC–eHPS) third annual eHealth Forum.

Dr Nathan Pinskier believes general practice is on the path to a more data-centric, rather than document-centric, world.
Dr Nathan Pinskier believes general practice is on the path to a more data-centric, rather than document-centric, world.

‘It is really frustrating when the number-one communication device in general practice is the fax machine, and that is probably consistent throughout the whole of health,’ Dr Nathan Pinskier, GP and REC–eHPS Chair, said to forum attendees. ‘We believe we are on a pathway now to resolving that.
‘We are increasingly moving from a document-centric view of the world to a data-centric view of the world.’
The 2017 eHealth Forum got underway this morning at RACGP House in East Melbourne.
‘The objective of the forum is to provide guidance and support to the RACGP, in particular the REC–eHPS, in terms of defining our [eHealth] process and strategy over the coming years,’ Dr Pinskier said.
‘There have been some exciting announcements made over the past couple of days.’
A key announcement in abandoning the fax is that secure messaging vendors Telstra Health and Global Health have achieved two-way interoperability. The lack of interoperability – namely the ability of different computer systems or software to exchange and make use of information – has long been a problematic issue within healthcare.
The recent breakthrough means providers using Global Health’s ReferralNet or Telstra Health’s Argus platforms are now able to securely exchange clinical documents, including referrals, other letters and discharges.
While the technology for secure messaging is getting closer to a profession-wide reality, a resistance to change within healthcare will likely still need to be addressed. Some may be reluctant to stray from the traditional forms of communication between general practice and hospitals, allied health, etc.
‘How do we solve the cultural problems in general practice?’ Dr Rob Hosking, GP and REC–eHPS Deputy Chair asked during this morning’s presentation.
Representatives from Telstra Health and Global Health, as well as the Australian Digital Health Agency, discussed the situation and effective ways to integrate new technologies into general practice.
‘How do we minimise that disruption on the ground while still bringing in some efficiency?’ Sari McKinnon from the Australian Digital Health Agency said. ‘It’s about hearts and minds, and getting people to change.
‘We are working with industry to develop a more seamless way to access information and share it. Useability is key.’
While everyone understands the need to implement cultural change within general practice, Dr Pinskier is very optimistic that the profession will successfully embrace new – and helpful – technology in the near future.
‘I’ve been getting up here for 10 years say, “I believe we will solve this problem in the next 12 months”, but I really do believe we will solve this problem in the next 12 months,’ he said. 
The forum also included expert discussion on a number of important eHealth areas, including patient experiences, electronic prescribing, digital healthcare and cyber security, and blockchain technology.

RACGP members and others can participate in the forum through a live Twitter feed using the hashtag, #GPeHealth. In addition, content will be hosted on the RACGP website following the event.

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Philip Dawson   27/11/2017 10:57:34 AM

The main bottleneck in getting rid of the fax is the public hospital system, while they send their discharge summaries, letter, notifications,pathology and radiology to us electronically, they steadfastly refuse despite repeated requests to let GPs or Specialists to send electronic letter or requests to them from outside the hospital. I have spoken to their IT people, they say they 'don't trust our security"!!