A mobile app for pancreatic cancer patients, a data exchange to help beat diabetes, an online health education platform and a secure messaging solution to communicate between aged care homes and GPs are among 15 projects being given early access to existing My Health Records in a government backed ‘test beds’ program.
The projects are being run by universities, patient advocacy groups, health tech firms and hospitals between them sharing $8.5 million in funding.
As of last month 5.89 million Australians have registered for a My Health Record, as well as 12,763 healthcare organisations including general practices, hospitals, pharmacies and aged care services. More than 20 million prescription and dispense records have been uploaded. Only consenting My Health Record holders will participate in the trials.
The aim of the initiative is for proposed uses of the My Health Records to be “rigorously reviewed and then scaled nationally”.
In one trial Eastern Health in Melbourne, Monash University, Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, Deakin University and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia will develop a program to increase the engagement between discharged patients and their community pharmacist and use My Health Record data to “help patients with their medicines in the transition from hospital to home”.
More than 290 community pharmacies and 5,000 patients will be involved.
“We know when patients leave hospital on new medications they can find it confusing knowing how much to take and when. Every year almost a quarter of a million Australians will be hospitalised from medication errors, which is more than the number hospitalised from car accidents,” a spokesperson for the Australian Digital Health Agency, the system operator of My Health Record, said.
“This program aims to reduce unplanned and early readmission to hospital due to medication errors while utilising evidence based research,” they added.
Avoiding medication errors and adverse reactions, is also a focus of the government backed Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) which launched in April.
In another ‘test bed’ trial, Darling Downs and West Moreton Primary Health Network is partnering with the University of Queensland and West Moreton Hospital and Health Service to use the My Health Record to develop a coordinated information transfer and patient journey for prisoners released from incarceration. The aim is to ensure former prisoners can maintain and continue their access to healthcare when back in the community.
44 actions by 2022
The government today released its National Digital Health Strategy and an accompanying implementation plan Framework for Action.
The framework outlines 44 activities prioritised for delivery by 2022, covering My Health Record, secure messaging of health information, improving the quality of health data, improving access to medicines information, enhancing models of care, educating healthcare providers on using digital health technologies and ‘driving innovation’.
The top priority for the Australian Digital Health Agency is to ensure the widespread adoption of My Health Record.
Australians will have three months from mid-July to opt out of having a My Health Record automatically created for them. After the opt-out deadline has passed the record cannot be deleted, only made “unavailable” to health providers and individuals, the Department of Health revealed last year.
The decision to shift to an opt-out model in order to boost uptake of the eHealth record followed trials in Queensland and New South Wales. Those trials were staged in the wake of a 2013 review of the system – originally named the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) – that concluded the system should shift to an opt-out approach.
The 2017-18 federal budget earmarked $374.2 million over two years for the expansion of the system as it moved away from opt-in.
“My Health Record will help save and protect lives, and it will offer increasing clinical utility in our health system in the future,” said Minister for Health Greg Hunt in a statement today.