Specialists the new target for My Health Record uptake


By Michael Woodhead

13 Jul 2020

The Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) says it is now turning its attention to encourage specialists to use the My Health Record system after recent figures showed only a small minority have signed up for the federal government’s digital health record system.

The ADHA says its focus over 2019 was connecting primary healthcare providers to the My Health Record system, and it now has over 90% of GPs and pharmacists registered to upload and view documents.

“It made sense to firstly work with healthcare providers who consumers deal with most and where levels of computerisation were already high,” it says in a 13 July statement.

But at the end of 2019 only 8% of specialist practices were connected to the system and the ADHA says it is now working to remove barriers to specialist use of e-health records such as software and technology compatibility.

Agency CEO Bettina McMahon says the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed healthcare workers  and patients into using new digital models of care, and the results of a new survey commissioned by the ADHA show that 90% of specialists are now open to using more technology when caring for their patients, including using apps and online self-service.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in digital health over the past three months as the health system has fast tracked its adoption of technology to deliver health services in a COVID world,” she said.

“This new research shows that we can expect digital health to remain a feature of healthcare into the future, now that consumers and healthcare professionals have experienced the convenience and benefits technology can bring.”

Ms McMahon says the ADHA’s is now working with software companies to make specialist software more user-friendly and to develop education and training materials.

“The Agency will continue to work with the health tech sector to improve the experience for healthcare professionals using IT in busy healthcare settings and the connection of their systems across the health sector,” she said.

“We are working with the tech industry to integrate standard medical terminology, national patient and provider identifiers, standardised secure messaging and the My Health Record into the systems specialists and other providers are already using – enabling them to access the most up to date patient health information in a safe, secure, and simple way,” Ms McMahon said.

“The importance of using technology to support our health workers to improve patient outcomes cannot be underestimated. We are working hard to improve their experience with technology so that Australians can benefit from digital health in the ‘new normal’ of health service delivery.”

In a May 2020 statistics update, the Australian Digital Health Agency said 91% of public hospitals were using the My Health Record and that 85% of MHRs now had data in them, the most popular being shared health summaries, immunisation records and hospital discharge summaries.

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