Australian eHealth a step closer with successful trial of Secure Message Delivery

The Australian healthcare industry is one step closer to fully adopting technology in health ('eHealth'), with healthcare providers successfully trialling electronic information transfer and sharing.

Five healthcare messaging vendors - Argus Connect, Global Health, Healthlink, LRS Health, and Medical Objects - collaborated with General Practices, the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) and associated government agencies to develop Secure Message Delivery (SMD) capabilities.

According to NEHTA's Head of Clinical Leadership and Stakeholder Management, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal AO, the success of the Project represents an opportunity for improved effectiveness and better health care.

"The progress that has been achieved by this Project will mean any medical practitioner – be they a public or private GP, specialist or surgeon – will be able to share information over time through online secure messaging.

"We can see that this technology is available, it does work and all healthcare providers will have the ability over time to connect across a wide range of clinical information systems.

It will increase electronic clinical information exchange between healthcare professionals, decrease the use of paper based communication and importantly provide more timely and accurate patient health information."

The SMD capability trial saw healthcare messaging vendors send and receive secure messages between one another. Interconnectivity was possible thanks to the collaboration between secure messaging vendors' providers and NEHTA.

To date, Argus Connect, Global Health, and Medical Objects have successfully demonstrated the technical ability to exchange messages with other messaging vendors in the general practice live environment. Successful long term adoption will require the development of sustainable business models. In addition, the adoption of clinical software by the non GP sector is also anticipated to drive the demand for secure message delivery.

"The inter-connectivity of General Practice to other healthcare providers is vital because GPs interact and communicate with other healthcare providers, including Medical Specialists, Nurses and Allied Health Professionals. NEHTA initiated the project to pave the way to demonstrate and prove true inter-connectivity between general practice and other healthcare providers," Dr Haikerwal said.

Electronic information sharing is a key milestone in the national infrastructure and adoption for eHealth in Australia.


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Notes to editors

[1] The Secure Message Delivery – Proof of Inter-connectivity and Deployment (SMD-POD) project, initiated by NEHTA in November 2012, supported the uptake of the Secure Message Delivery Australian Technical Specification (ATS) by the Health ICT industry and secure messaging vendors, to "provide proof that standards-based secure messaging can be deployed in a scalable way, utilising National Infrastructure Services, and to also demonstrate that different conformant Secure Messaging Vendor products are capable of interconnecting within the Australian Primary Care sector and with other healthcare providers."

Vendor quotes

  • Ross Davey GM of ArgusConnect: "The testing that has taken place under the POD project has demonstrated message interoperability in live medical practice situations. Now we need the collaboration between vendors on shared support roles, responsibilities and service levels to ensure a consistent quality of service for customers. "The Secure Message Exchange (SMX) consortium is developing and implementing these processes to ensure a sustainable operational service"

  • Mathew Cherian CEO of Global Health: "The sector knowledge, cross-vendor and public sector facilitation, administrative and technical support provided through the SMD-POD project team was valuable to all participants. The ability for General Practice to exchange correspondence electronically between them will soon be a reality. The SMD-POD project establishes the "proof-of-concept". Once the relevant e Health foundation services are implemented in the hundreds of other non-GP clinical applications used across healthcare, the benefits will quickly materialise."

  • Geoffrey Sayer, Head of Operations, Healthlink: "Interoperability needs building blocks and co-operation to ensure that standards are applied in the real world. SMD POD has been a significant step in the right direction. It has shown that it takes more than just standards to make things work. However, the real challenges are now before us as we all have to continue to make it easier, safer and sustainable for the many years to come."

  • Lynden Crawford General Manager Medical – Objects: "The NEHTA SMD-POD enabled secure messaging vendors to expand their interconnectivity capabilities using a standards-based solution. It has been a pleasure to work with the technical staff of all the companies who participated in the POD. We were able to achieve test messages with every single one!

"We look forward to open exchange with all of them and others on a commercial basis in the near future. The NEHTA POD team have been very supportive throughout the whole process and we look forward to future projects."