Since its inception in 2012, 2.3 million individuals and nearly 8000 healthcare providers have registered for the Federal Government’s Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) eHealth system. As one of the few software vendors to connect to the PCEHR, iCareHealth Managing Director, Chris Gray, was invited to attend the recent Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) forum on the future of eHealth in Australia. In this blog, Chris provides an update on the government’s plans for eHealth and what it means for aged care providers.
The PCEHR system is designed to provide an electronic view of an individual’s personal health information, including shared health summaries, specialist letters, and pathology and medication data. With a unified system, comprehensive patient information can be easily accessed by healthcare providers, leading to more efficient processes. As it currently stands, the bulk of organisations registered for the PCEHR are General Practices, with around 150 residential aged care providers currently involved. Each individual registered for the PCEHR has the ability to control what information is allowed into the record and which services are able to access that information.
While currently run by the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA), the Department of Health’s Deputy Secretary and Strategic Advisor, Paul Madden, told the forum that the PCEHR will be managed by the Australian Commission for eHealth from July 2016. With this also comes a change in program title, with the PCEHR to be rebranded as myHealth Record. These changes aim to create a more user-friendly model, which will better align to the existing clinical workflows used by providers.
Opt-in vs opt-out
Perhaps the biggest change to the eHealth system will come in the form of four opt-out trial sites, which will be a first for the current opt-in system. Many healthcare providers have expressed concerns around the opt-in nature of the PCEHR since its inception. If successful, the opt-out model may be rolled out nationally, which may help address current issues around program education and engagement. While the location of these trials has yet to be announced, Madden explained that the sites are expected to cover large areas and will include over one million people in total. These opt-out trials should benefit aged care organisations, as providers in the trial site areas will have access to comprehensive health and care information. The outcomes of these trials will be evaluated independently, and will help inform whether the myHealth Record system will move to an opt-out model in the future.
While there are still many unknowns about how the government’s eHealth system will take shape, Madden explained that individuals and providers will be notified about relevant updates as they happen. This will include information about trial sites and how aged care providers will be affected if located within a site area. For providers not within a trial site, staying informed about the eHealth model will prove beneficial, as these developments may eventually be rolled out nationwide.
Your partner in eHealth
iCareHealth is one of only a few software providers that are currently able to link to the PCEHR system. This means that all residential iCareHealth clients can match their residents to an Individual Health Identifier and display this information within the iCareHealth software. Aged care providers utilising this feature have access to a holistic view of each resident’s health and care information. This system will help to reduce duplicate data entry and the risks associated with incomplete health data. At iCareHealth, we believe that a nationwide eHealth system will help aged care providers to achieve better health outcomes and deliver streamlined, effective care.
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Tags: aged care, Department of Health, ehealth, government, health, home care, hospital, iCareHealth, iCareHealth software, medication management, myHealth Record, PCEHR, residential aged care, technology