The Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) – the system operator of the My Health Record – is providing nine clinical software vendors with $40,000 each to integrate their systems with the record and build new features.
Best Practice Software, Clinic to Cloud, Clinical Computers, Genie Solutions, Intrahealth, Medical-Objects, Medical Wizard, Software for Specialists and Zedmed were named today as recipients of the funding after they applied in May.
The funding is part of a concerted effort by the ADHA to increase My Health Record use by specialists, such as cardiologists or anaesthetists, over the next 12 months.
Some parts of the health sector have “enthusiastically embraced” the My Health Record, the agency said, pointing to increased registrations from community pharmacies.
Around a fifth of community pharmacies were registered to access the record in June last year, rising to 86 per cent last month. Adoption by pharmacies in general has climbed to 83 per cent, while 92 per cent of general practices are now connected.
In response to a Computerworld query, the agency said that it does not have comparative data for specialist adoption readily available. The latest available public figures show My Health Record adoption among specialists to be the lowest among all provider types. In October 2017 only 263 out of 8243 specialists had connected.
Research by the Department of Health conducted before the My Health Record roll out found specialists considered endorsement by professional bodies and financial incentives the main factors impacting their adoption of electronic health records. Research conducted on behalf of the ADHA in November last year found 82 per cent of surveyed specialists believed My Health Record had the potential to save time involved in requesting and gathering patient information.
“We want to support our local clinical information system vendors to integrate the My Health Record into their software in a way that encourages specialists to embrace these systems in the same way they’ve embraced other technology,” said ADHA chief operating officer, Bettina McMahon in a statement.
“We won’t be specifying what changes should be made to systems. Instead, we will work vendors and their customers – the specialists themselves – to come up with designs that specialists and their practice staff will love to use, and which will benefit from the rich data provided by the My Health Record,” she added.
A central goal of the government's Australian National Digital Health Strategy is for all healthcare providers to be able to contribute to and use health information in My Health Record by 2022.
The software makers responded to an expression of interest call from the agency in May. To be eligible, the company's needed to have a clinical information system being used in at least 10 private specialist practices in Australia.
“We know that well thought through, integrated workflows will help specialists and their patients get the best value from My Health Record,” said James Scollay, CEO of Genie Solutions.
“This initiative is a positive step forward in this process. Not only will it improve the patient experience, but it will help bridge the gap between medical specialists and other healthcare professionals in the end-to-end management of patient information – ultimately improving health outcomes for patients,” he added.
The funding was welcomed by the Medical Software Industry Association.
"This is no small undertaking, but we are pleased the Agency is working collaboratively with Industry to co-develop designs that are fit-for-purpose and draw on the software providers’ own knowledge of the sector. The importance of this co-design is to balance the firehose of data for specialists, while ensuring important and meaningful data is presented and delivered in ways that benefit patient outcomes from more informed data-led decisions at the point of consultation,” said association president Robert Best.
In February, the ADHA revealed that nine out of 10 Australians now have a My Health Record. The agency extended the period for people to opt-out from three to five months, following a Senate vote. Legislation was also passed to allow citizens to opt out at any time, and permanently delete their records.