Fax machines on the way out for Australian healthcare
Fax-free healthcare is one step closer today, as the Australian Digital Health Agency (the Agency) and clinical information systems vendors work together to progress secure electronic messaging between healthcare providers.
This technology will enable health data to flow securely from one healthcare provider to another – irrespective of the software they are using, the organisation they work for, or with whom they are communicating.
Dr Nathan Pinskier, Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee on eHealth and Practice Systems, said the technology will have a big impact on the sector, where confidential patient records are regularly transmitted by dated systems such as facsimile and post.
"The number one issue to be resolved in health care communications is the ability for healthcare providers to electronically communicate with each other directly, seamlessly and securely," Dr Pinskier said.
"The interoperability solution is within our grasp and I thank the Australian Digital Health Agency and its CEO, Tim Kelsey, for listening to the sector and making this a high priority item."
Agency CEO, Tim Kelsey, said the Agency has partnered with industry, jurisdictions and healthcare professionals and undertaken technical work over months to progress discussions from theory into clinical practice.
"I have been listening to key partners in the community on their aspirations for the Digital Health Agency and ways it can support key health priorities in Australia," Mr Kelsey said.
"Secure messaging between providers is one of the key themes that comes up in these discussions, and getting it right will create opportunities to leverage these communications for other purposes, including uploads to the My Health Record."
Work is underway with HealthLink and Telstra – with a range of healthcare providers across a variety of locations engaged in current trials. The objective is to develop solutions that allow secure messaging between healthcare providers with different clinical information systems messaging vendors, in a way that can be scaled nationally.
The judges of the success of this integration will be the healthcare providers themselves – who must give each project their tick of approval before the projects are deemed a success.
The Agency called for tenders in February for industry and clinical consortia to work together to fix these integration problems. After a competitive process the Agency has entered into a contract with HealthLink to lead a consortium to send secure messages between GPs and specialists, and with Telstra to lead a consortium to send discharge summaries to GPs and other healthcare providers. The Agency anticipates announcing the third successful consortia shortly.
Media contact: David Cooper, Senior Media Manager
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About the Digital Health Agency
The Agency is tasked with improving health outcomes for all Australians through the delivery of digital healthcare systems and the national digital health strategy for Australia. The Agency was established on 1 July 2016 by the Australian Government as a statutory authority in the form of a corporate Commonwealth entity, and reports to all Australian governments through the COAG Health Council.