A number of healthcare practitioners from the Australian Primary Healthcare Nurses (APNA) share their experiences on how digital health has benefited their work. Watch the video below.
What is in it for you and your patients?
Digital health for your patients
It's easy to see how patients can benefit from digital health. Every visit to a healthcare professional, or a hospital or other medical facility, may result in important information about their health being created and stored at that specific location. Digital health will allow this information to be much more easily shared between the healthcare providers involved in their care.
The My Health Record system will give patients:
- 24/7 access to a summary of their health information, from anywhere in Australia.
- The ability to keep track of their medications, immunisations and allergies.
- More understanding of their health status, and more involvement in the healthcare decisions affecting them.
- The ability to share their important health information with all healthcare providers involved in their care.
Patients will also benefit from the other digital health initiatives, with Electronic Transfer of Prescriptions (ETP) just one example of where an improved process will provide more flexibility and convenience for individuals. For more information, please refer to the Features of the My Health Record system.
Digital health for providers
Research indicates that as many as 13%1 of primary care visits have missing clinical information. A patient's health information is potentially distributed across a wide range of locations including their GP, hospitals, imaging centres, specialists and allied health practices.
Now, using your existing clinical software, you can readily access the My Health Record system and download and contribute up-to-date information about your patient's health to supplement the information you receive directly from other healthcare providers. This includes:
- Medical history
- Details of any allergies, adverse drug reactions, and immunisations
- Any medications that have been prescribed and dispensed
- Hospital discharge summaries
- Specialist letters
This information can be of particular benefit for new or itinerant patients, saving you time chasing this information, and meaning less reliance on the patient's memory.
Benefits of digital health to providers may include:
- More time with patients – less time chasing clinical information and investigations, resending or chasing referrals, scanning, printing, filing and posting
- Better information sharing between different sources, for example between GPs and Hospitals
- Important patient information being available to you quickly and exactly when needed
- Helping your patients, including those with chronic and complex conditions, to better manage their health
- Increased efficiencies may help reduce the number of unnecessary repeat tests, hospitalisations and follow-up specialist visits
- Confidential patient correspondence only seen by treating clinicians (no scanning necessary)
The Agency continues to develop and support a range of digital health products and initiatives that over time will provide a range of benefits to providers. For more information, please refer to the Features of the My Health Record system.
1Smith, PC, Araya-Guerra, R et al 2005, Missing Clinical Information During Primary Care Visits, JAMA, 293(5):565-571
Here are some examples where digital health is already improving healthcare in Australia:
- "Our clients are becoming more aware of their conditions and working with us to improve their health outcomes." (Aboriginal Health Practice Administration Coordinator)
- In addition to "contributing discharge summaries from acute care (ED / Inpatient) to the My Health Record system enriching provider access to acute sector information to authorised external clinicians e.g. GPs.", the project is "enabling acute and community clinicians to view records held in the My Health Record system, improving access to clinical information that would not have been available where a patient newly presents", e.g., including a hospital reporting having viewed out of State Discharge Summaries. (Jurisdiction Final Report; Rapid Integration to PCEHR)
- "For a general practice having undertaken clinical data cleansing exercises in readiness for eHealth they were able to more efficiently identify their diabetic patients. As a result, those diabetic patients were able to be booked in for diabetes care planning appointments. At these appointments, patients were registered for a digital health record using the Assisted Registration Tool and a Shared Health Summary was uploaded by the GP into their newly created digital health record. As of December 2013, the practice now reports improved glycaemic control of those patients with a recorded HbA1c. 76% have an HbA1c recorded reading <7%, and 90% of diabetic patients have an HbA1c <8%." (South Australian Rural Practice Manager)
The Practice Incentives Programme (PIP) is aimed at supporting general practice activities that encourage continuing improvements and quality care, enhance capacity, and improve access and health outcomes for patients.
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Standards for general practices.
PIP is administered by the Department of Human Services on behalf of the Department of Health.
Over recent times PIP has included in excess of a dozen different incentives. Practices can apply for as many as they are eligible for. These different incentives include: Quality Prescribing, Diabetes Management, Cervical Screening, Asthma Management, Indigenous Health, Teaching, GP Aged Care Access and digital health.
- For more detail on the administration of PIP and the incentives available please refer to the DHS Website.
- For more information regarding PIP Registration Support refer to Registration Support.
- In order to meet the Practice Incentives Program (PIP) eHealth Incentive requirements, practices must ensure that their software systems are compliant. This is achieved by practices consulting the Digital Health Incentive Product Register.
By increasing information transparency and sharing, the My Health Record system, eMedication Management, Secure Messaging Delivery and other digital health initiatives will drive improvements in coordination of care and enhance patient satisfaction.
Research conducted both within Australia and internationally suggests the My Health Record system, eMedication Management and Secure Message Delivery can help reduce healthcare costs through increased quality, safety and access.
- QUALITY — supporting uninterrupted coordinated care across different healthcare providers at the right place and the right time
- Consolidation and reconciliation of patient information
- Improved continuity of care (healthcare information is consistent and easily shared between all relevant providers)
- Increased levels of preventative care (such as immunisation).
- SAFETY — avoids or minimises situations which can harm or have the potential to harm patients during the course of care delivery
- Improvements in medication safety, leading to potential reductions in adverse drug events (ADEs)
- Increased follow-up after an event (such as an abnormal test or hospitalisation).
- ACCESS — the ability of patients to obtain healthcare at the right place and right time irrespective of socioeconomic status, physical location and/or cultural background
- Control over who may view the consumer's information
- Geographic flexibility and mobility.
These three core benefits have the ability to translate into both healthcare system efficiencies and population health benefits.
- EFFICIENCY— achieving the desired results with the most cost-efficient use of resources
- Timeliness of information
- Reduction in duplicate testing
- POPULATION—building a strong and resilient society through meeting the population's expectations regarding their health system
- Increased consumer satisfaction with their healthcare delivery
- Economic flow-on effects through digital health investments and a healthier population.
We are working with researchers to ensure digital health outcomes are able to be measured in conjunction with the assumed benefits of digital health. The Benefits and Evaluation approach considers the five aspects of a digital health implementation.
Download Benefits Research PDF
Researchers wishing to embark on My Health Record system, Secure Messaging or eMedication Management meaningful use, benefits and health outcomes research projects are encouraged to contact and consult the Agency to discuss digital health research feasibility.
Please contact us by emailing the Help Centre, or call us on: 1300 901 001.
Here are analysis reports outlining the benefits of digital health products and their functions.Read more on Digital Health Benefits Reports