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Renewed calls to improve electronic sharing of residents’ clinical information

Aged care, doctors and pharmacists groups are calling for seamless digital integration between aged care and health records.

Aged Care Industry Information Technology Council representative Rod Young has described Australia’s aged care services as “the forgotten sector” in the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) plan to deploy a universal health record for all Australians over the next two years.

“Aged care services are a missing piece of the health aged care electronic interface that requires urgent attention,” Mr Young told Australian Ageing Agenda.

“With 180,000 aged care residents at any one time, there are approximately 100,000 resident transfers between hospitals and aged care facilities each year, and at least 18 million medication prescribing events generated by GPs and delivered by community pharmacies.”

There would be significant workforce efficiencies in all three sectors if these events were conducted electronically, he said.

“The obvious next step is to ensure that the My Health Record and aged care clinical documentation can be used in a fully-integrated interface. The Department of Health must include aged care services in the roll out of an integrated health record,” Mr Young said.

Ken Wyatt

The Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt said there was work going on to ensure My Health Record could deliver improved health outcomes for aged care residents.

However, the sector’s call’s for financial support to connect to the e-health record system, such as other groups including GPs and private hospitals received, continue to go answered.

“While it is important for the primary and aged care sectors to work together to deliver health care services to older Australians they are funded by the Australian Government in different ways.

“As such the way that the Australian Government engages with these sectors to encourage the uptake of systems, such as My Health Record, will differ,” Minister Wyatt told AAA.

He said the Government would also be looking at future connection between the My Health Record and My Aged Care.

My Aged Care not handling GP referrals

The Australian Medical Association strongly supports digital health for the delivery of better healthcare, but its spokesperson told AAA that My Aged Care “in its current form cannot satisfactorily handle electronic referrals from GPs.”

“The online form for an ACAT [aged care assessment team] referral is not linked with clinical software, meaning it cannot be auto-populated with the GP’s clinical records, and cannot be directly saved to the patient record. It has to be saved as an external document and attached, creating a significant administrative burden for already time-limited GPs,” the AMA said.

“In addition to problems with My Aged Care, there is a lack of uptake of electronic health records in aged care facilities, and aged care providers’ management systems and provisions of care have low levels of technology readiness, exacerbating communication difficulties.”

The AMA has raised its concerns with the Department of Health and the ADHA to discuss the best options to link the My Health Record with aged care and GP software systems, and My Aged Care.

“We need a solution where multiple software systems are able to seamlessly speak to each other and we need clinicians to be able to access information effortlessly,” GenWise director Dr Sebastian Rees told AAA.

 

The Pharmacy Guild also supports integration of health and aged care records.

It recently signed a partnership with the digital health agency to encourage maximum take up of My Health Record through community pharmacies.

“Pharmacists will spend less time chasing up clinical information and will have access to My Health Record as part of their regular workflow and dispensing process,” a spokesman from the Pharmacy Guild said.

An ADHA spokesperson confirmed that the national Digital Health Strategy has prioritised a digitally-enabled medicines management program, making prescribing safer in aged care facilities and reducing adverse drug events, which disproportionally affect older Australians.

“Enabling secure messaging and the exchange of high-quality data between healthcare providers will also enable practitioners in aged care facilities to better plan and coordinate care,” the spokesperson told AAA.

The ADHA  said it was continuing to work with software vendors in the residential aged care sector to identify improvements to software functionality and interoperability with My Health Record.

To date, 168 residential aged care service providers have connected to the My Health Record system.

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