Above: NEHTA chief executive, Peter Fleming, speaks at the 2011 Health Informatics Conference.
By Stephen Easton
The National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) announced last week it had executed contracts with five aged care software makers to form a vendor panel that will support and encourage the introduction of personally controlled electronic health records (PCEHR) across the sector.
NEHTA CEO, Peter Fleming, said the panel’s primary aim would be driving the uptake of the PCEHR among residential and community aged care providers.
“NEHTA recognises the importance of consulting closely with the software industry as we build the new eHealth records system,” Mr Fleming said in a statement. “These vendors are expected to be the early adopters of the PCEHR in the aged care sector.”
NEHTA has committed to work collaboratively with the Aged Care Association Australia, the Aged Care Industry Information Technology Council and other stakeholders, as well as the panel members, on the changes that aged care software companies will need to make to their products to meet the requirements for PCEHR implementation
The authority will also provide funding and support to vendor panel members to assist them in successfully implementing the required changes in their software products in a manner which is conformant with NEHTA and PCEHR specification, and will ensure that vendors make their NEHTA conformant solutions available to their Australian customer base
The panel members will not only be working to adapt their own software, but to make sure the lessons they learn are “captured and disseminated broadly and equitably to all vendors and providers throughout the aged care sector”, according to Aged Care Industry Information Technology Council (ACIITC) chair, Suri Ramanathan.
“We have a team of people … to manage, lead, coordinate and collaborate with all these parties,” Mr Ramanathan said.
“So we have a team who go and capture the lessons learnt and document them, then we hope to release [the findings] once the project is finished, which is pretty soon. We’re looking at a couple of months and it will then get shared broadly in the sector.”
The NEHTA statement also features ACIITC member, Rod Young, explaining more about the Pathfinder Project, which will soon bring together three members of the vendor panel with three aged care providers, the names of which are expected be officially announced later this week.
“The Pathfinder Project, which is being managed by the Aged Care Association Australia, will be working closely with several of the contracted vendors to develop a roadmap for future IT deployment in aged care, generate lessons learned from adopting the PCEHR standards, identify the ways in which aged care providers benefit from integrating with the PCEHR, and understand what business process changes will be required to maximise the benefits of PCEHR integration,” Mr Young said.
Mr Ramanathan announced plans to pursue the Pathfinder Project at the Information Technology in Aged Care (ITAC) conference in April. In a “whole-of-industry approach”, he said the three providers would test out the PCEHR and “look at workflows, policy issues, then document it and disseminate it to the entire sector”.
Mr Ramanathan also used the ITAC 2012 forum to invite chief information officers (CIOs) from aged care providers around Australia to join a national ‘CIO’s forum’ for the aged care industry, in order to develop a “national roadmap for greater IT implementation in aged care”.