WA health service paving the way for digital health care
An Aboriginal community health service in Port Hedland, Western Australia, is using technology to ensure better connected care for local patients. The Wirraka Maya Health Service relies on My Health Record to keep up to date with patient pathology, imaging, medication, dispensing and history records.
Over 2020, the health service uploaded the ninth highest number of shared health summaries in Western Australia, recorded the highest number of event summaries and viewed more uploaded documents than any other primary care provider in Western Australia.
Dr Yolande Knight, Senior Medical Health Officer at Wirraka Health Service, said My Health Record helps the health service see what other doctors have requested and performed, and overcome delays while waiting for records requested from other practices and providers.
“We find it helpful because a lot of our patients are transient, moving from one region to another, so it can be difficult to get their comprehensive files. We can also upload and share what we’ve done, so when the patient attends elsewhere, their record is current and available to other practitioners,” said Dr Knight.
My Health Record also displays which scripts have been dispensed, with PathWest results automatically available. Dr Knight said this has helped with the recent COVID-19 test results, where it was quicker to see the result on the patient’s record than to join the phone queue to get the result.
Another key benefit for patients is that they can use the shared health summaries and prescription information that has been uploaded by Wirraka Maya as proof of any underlying health conditions, which can enable them to obtain an early COVID-19 vaccination.
Wirraka Maya Health Service originated from the efforts of Aboriginal people to establish a health service to address the unmet needs of Aboriginal people in the Port Hedland and South Hedland areas and surrounding communities. It commenced clinical services in 1996 and now has more than 7000 residents registered and actively engaged in wellbeing, primary care and prevention programs across the region.,
Australian Digital Health Agency Consumer Advocate Steve Renouf congratulated Wirraka Maya for its commitment to digital health.
“It’s great to see an Aboriginal-controlled health service leading the way in achieving outstanding results in the use of digital technology. This commitment to digital service delivery will continue to enhance clinical outcomes in local communities and help breach the digital divide that can disadvantage remote patients,” said Renouf.
Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) Public Health Medical Officer Dr Marianne Wood said the AHCWA has been very active in supporting the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) and wider WA health sectors in the My Health Record project, recognising that the benefit of the record is greater when there is a collective effort.
“The ACCHS sector in WA has been a leader in the use of My Health Record and we are very proud of the great work by Wirraka Maya. Many ACCHS recognised, early on, the enormous potential of the record in improving the care of Aboriginal patients, particularly for those who travel widely and receive care from many different healthcare providers across this enormous state,” said Dr Wood.
WA Primary Health Alliance General Manager (Primary Care Innovation and Development) Bernadette Kenny commended Wirraka Maya’s use of My Health Record, adding that it ensures that clients are supported throughout their health journey in the Pilbara and beyond by providing vital clinical information when it is most needed.
“This is the result of the whole team at Wirraka Maya working together and understanding the real benefits to their community when it comes to utilising the digital health services available to them,” said Kenny.
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