The Australian Digital Health Agency has developed a three-year program to drive the adoption and use of digital health in residential aged care homes in response to royal commission’s recommendations.

ADHA’s acting chief digital officer Rupert Lee provided an industry forum and update on the agency’s plans for the aged care sector arising from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s final report.

He said recommendation 68, which calls for a universal adoption of digital technologies and My Health Record, stood out most to the agency.

That recommendation includes that all providers of clinical or personal care must have a digital care management system with electronic medication management by July 2022.

“Consequently, the agency is initially focusing on residential aged care facilities,” Mr Lee told the ITAC April International Forum on Tuesday.

Rupert Lee

ADHA is focusing its activity on recommendation 68 as well as 109, which proposes the government invest in ICT architecture and in technology and infrastructure for aged care.

The program will drive the adoption and use of digital health in residential aged care homes to facilitate the sharing of healthcare information when it is needed most, Mr Lee said.

“The purpose of our aged care program is to implement system wide enhancements that will support critical moments in the health care journey of older Australians,” he said.

Three-phase program

The three-year program will focus on the development of specifications and conformance profiles for digital enablement in aged care, Mr Lee said.

The first phase includes My Health Record conformance, viewing capability and the ability to upload advanced care planning information, he said.

“[It includes] My Health Record system enhancements to enable My Health Record to support the transfer of information supporting transitions of care between residential aged care and other healthcare settings, as well as collaboration with the aged care access branch to explore the possibilities between two-way information sharing between My Health Record and My Aged Care,” Mr Lee said.

The second phase includes uploading aged care transfer data, secure messaging functionality and electronic prescribing capabilities.

He said the goal is to have 100 per cent integration and adoption of My Health Record among aged care providers by 30 June 2023.

The program’s third year will assess the next steps for the rest of the sector including home care, Mr Lee said.

He said it was more realistic to prioritise residential aged care given the pressures on the sector and the royal commissioners’ strong focus for significant reform in this part of the sector, he said.

However, the agency is assessing opportunities for home care and recognises that some in this cohort are tech-savvy and especially in virtual care, Mr Lee said.

ADHA eyes primary care, telehealth

The ADHA will also respond to recommendation 56, which proposes a new primary care model to improve access.

“It’s important that the agency also plays a key role in helping to define the role of digital technology and My Health Record in the new primary care model as it directly aligns with the agency’s strategic priority to digitally enable primary care,” Mr Lee said.

In response to recommendation 63, which calls for improved access to specialist telehealth services, he said the ADHA would provide education and solutions on telehealth and virtual care models.

The ITAC April International Forum took place on 27 April.

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