Aged care organisations need to ensure they are using the agreed national eHealth infrastructure, according to the chair of the authority supporting the national uptake of eHealth, who says help is on hand for any provider that wants it.
The government allocated $485 million over four years in the May Budget to “rescue” the under-subscribed eHealth system, which has 2,242,823 individuals and 144 aged care residents’ services signed up, according to a report given to the Senate Estimates hearing in Canberra on Tuesday.
New measures include trials of an opt-out e-health record model, replacing the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) with a new Australian Commission for eHealth, and renaming the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) to myHealth Record.
When asked whether the aged care sector would now receive the same kind of financial support as other stakeholders to increase eHealth uptake, NEHTA chair Dr Steve Hambleton said support was currently available.
“There’s a bit of parallel work being done by the aged care sector now, but NEHTA, while it is around, is absolutely engaged with whoever wants to be engaged with it,” Dr Hambleton told Technology Review at the Health-e-Nation Leadership Summit on Wednesday.
“What the aged care sector needs to think about is actually making sure that they are using the national infrastructure, which has already been agreed. Communication protocols need to be as per national grid communication protocols. Nomenclature disease is either be or mapped to SNOMED-CT,” he said.
“Now that there is a national infrastructure, a national standard, when you are buying a new service for aged care or you’re developing a service, this has to be, or mapped to AMT (Australian Medicines Terminology).”
This means software developers don’t need to know what system is being used provided there is middleware they can map to, he said.
Aged care to benefit from opt-out model
Dr Hambleton said that moving the myHealth Record to an opt-out approach would benefit the aged care sector and aged care clients because everybody who needed it would now have it. He told Technology Review:
“The biggest difficultly we have in residential aged care is actually getting the people to opt in. Dementia care similarly. Because they can’t opt in, they can’t get the benefits and often that is the target population.”
Moving to the opt-out model would remove one barrier but other features, such as advance care directives and medications, also needed to be in there, Dr Hambleton said.
As Technology Review has reported, aged care leaders have made it clear that it should be involved in the trials, and Dr Hambleton said it likely would be because they trials will be population based and therefore capture everybody in the designated area.
The trial is due to begin in 2016 and work is underway to determine the trail sites.
Department of Health special advisor Paul Madden told a Senate Estimates hearing on Tuesday that the trial population across a minimum of two and a maximum of five sites would be about a million people.
“We want to get a spread that includes lots of people or individuals and lots of GPs and specialists, allied and private, and public hospitals to get the whole connected community of health care providers for that community involved,” Mr Madden said.
He said they were working with states and territories through the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Committee on the possible selection of sites, which needed to be discernible so that people in the trials knew that they were in and those outside knew they were not.
“We will be trialling our communication processes and also working through education, communication and training for GPs and other health care providers in the trial sites. While the population and the individuals in those areas might have a registration, we want to make sure that the health care providers are engaged with that system as well,” Mr Madden said.