Health system to finally ditch faxes

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Tuesday, 18 July, 2017

Health system to finally ditch faxes

The Australian Digital Health Agency, Telstra and HealthLink are working to develop interoperable secure electronic messaging capabilities for healthcare providers.

The partners are developing a technology to allow healthcare data to flow between healthcare providers regardless of the software they are using or the organisation they work for.

The agency is working with HealthLink and Telstra to conduct a range of trials with healthcare providers nationwide. The goal is to develop a messaging system that can be scaled nationally.

HealthLink has been contracted to lead a consortium developing a solution for sending secure messages between GPs and specialists, while Telstra is leading a consortium to send discharge summaries to GPs and other healthcare providers. A third consortium will be selected for the project soon.

Currently, confidential patient records are still regularly transmitted using dated systems including faxes and the mail. Developing an electronic technology could allow the Australian healthcare sector to phase out these obsolete methods entirely.

According to Dr Nathan Pinskier, chair of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners’ expert committee on eHealth and practice systems, the technology has the potential to have a major impact on the healthcare sector.

“The number one issue to be resolved in healthcare communications is the ability for healthcare providers to electronically communicate with each other directly, seamlessly and securely,” he said.

“The interoperability solution is within our grasp and I thank the Australian Digital Health Agency and its CEO, Tim Kelsey, for listening to the sector and making this a high-priority item.”

Australian Digital Health Agency CEO Tim Kelsey added that secure messaging between providers is hotly demanded by healthcare providers. A successful system would also “create opportunities to leverage these communications for other purposes, including uploads to the My Health Record”, he said.

Image courtesy Manmun2a/Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 2.5

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