Fax machines to be redundant in healthcare after June 2019


By Michael Woodhead

14 Jan 2019

Fax machines should be consigned to the scrapheap after a national secure messaging system for healthcare becomes functional in mid 2019, doctors have been told.

From June doctors will have access to a digital “Yellow Pages” directory that will allow them to locate and communicate with other healthcare providers via a seamless interoperable secure messaging system, according to the government’s Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA).

Speaking at a Secure Messaging Industry Collaboration Workshop in Sydney on 27 November 2018, ADHA Chief Operating Officer Bettina McMahon said industry stakeholders such as clinical software providers had committed to implementing a national system that will allow all healthcare providers to communicate quickly, easily and securely with each other by June 2019.

The resulting system will reduce the sector’s current reliance on outdated technologies like the fax machine, she said.

“Through events like the Secure Messaging Industry Collaboration Workshop, the ADHA is working collaboratively with industry, suppliers of secure messaging solutions, and clinical software vendors to reduce existing barriers to adoption and to provide pragmatic and implementable solutions,” said Ms McMahon.

“The end result will be the equivalent of a national ‘yellow pages’ for all registered healthcare providers, enabling them to easily contact each other.”

She noted that some clinical software vendors already provide secure messaging for specific healthcare sectors, but the ultimate goal is a nationwide network that links up existing systems. At the meeting, representatives from industry,  clinical practice and the ADHA signed an agreement to work towards a target of delivering a minimum viable product by June 2019.

Working groups were also established to help identify and troubleshoot barriers to the adoption of secure messaging, improve the clinical experience, and to develop an industry alliance participation agreement and trust framework.

“Secure messaging is a foundational capability enabling interoperability and safe, seamless, and secure information sharing between healthcare providers,” said Ms McMahon. A communique on collaboration was signed with Medical Software Industry Association President Emma Hossack and Dr Nathan Pinskier, Clinical Advisor to the ADHA’s Secure Messaging Program.

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