Live tests of electronic discharge summaries are underway

Suppose you have a friend in Los Angeles whose birthday is today. You decide to call her, so you check the local time in California, and call her from your mobile phone at what you hope is a suitable time. The call connects, you share a few laughs, and reminisce about good times from your past.

Now look at that process technically. Your mobile phone dialled a unique number that identified another phone in Los Angeles, and your call was routed through the national carrier network to its US equivalent to an American cell phone service, perhaps mediated by other carriers along the way. But you don’t know anything about that. You dialled a number, and it worked.

Clinical communications have a long way to go before they achieve a comparable level of seamless operation, and the Australian Digital Health Agency is partnering with industry groups on multiple projects to make this dream a reality. The overarching goal of each project is to remove barriers to secure messaging, to improve usability for clinicians, and to establish processes that are the same irrespective of the underlying systems, enabling full transparency and seamless operation.

One of these projects is a proof of concept project led by a vendor consortium headed by Telstra Health to securely deliver discharge summaries based on HL7 messages to general practices. Telstra have engaged the Royal Melbourne Hospital to send the electronic discharge summaries to ten primary healthcare and specialist healthcare provider organisations in the surrounding area (including some in super-clinics), with support from the South Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network.

Other vendors in the consortium include Genie, Zed Med, Medical Objects, Global Health and HealthLink. Best Practice may join as well, but this is not yet confirmed . We’re hearing that the project is on track to meet its planned target of the end of March 2018.