After a recent tour of the Pilbara, Australian Digital Health Agency CEO Tim Kelsey said concerns about safety, access and patient experience issues in rural and remote regions are problems he believes could be quickly addressed by digital-enabled health data sharing.
“Somebody has been discharged from a big hospital in Perth – they are going home, they live in a remote Aboriginal community and they lose their discharge summary,” Mr Kelsey said.
“When they subsequently see a doctor, they may get the wrong medicines.”
Mix-ups and readmissions such as these could be prevented by the uptake of the Australian Government’s online My Health Record program, Mr Kelsey said, which allows an individual to keep a secure mobile health summary that can be shared with health professionals wherever needed.
WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) has overseen the WA expansion of the My Health Record program, as part of its efforts to ensure the State has a strong linked-up digital health system that will allow better informed treatment decisions, improve access to healthcare and ensure sustainability and better co-ordination.
“So simply the opportunity for a doctor in that remote community to have access to the My Health Record, so that they can see the discharge summary and any further medicines information could stop that readmission, and really help that patient have a different opportunity,” Mr Kelsey said.
“People are flying from one very small remote community to a slightly larger town, getting off that plane, then getting on another plane to Perth for an appointment with an outpatient service – which nine times out of 10 could be done with a telehealth service.
“These are real-world instances where nothing more complex than information sharing at the point of care, digitally-enabled, can really make a big difference.”
WAPHA is working with partners to deliver “Better Health, Together” by focusing on five ways we’re using digital health tools.
- Overseeing the expansion across WA of this Australian Government program, focusing on community engagement and health practitioner training and support
- Boosting telehealth services across WA to allow secure video conferencing between patients and health professionals
- Funding PORTS, a virtual mental health service
- Offering a data extraction and analysis tool to support general practices to easily access up-to-date data to better identify patient needs.
- Administering HealthPathways WA, an online clinical support and referral tool for GPs to use at the point of care.
Each is helping WAPHA as it shapes and strengthens the WA health system that works for people to improve access to healthcare, particularly for those at risk of poor health outcomes.
A strong digital health data system is also a key recommendation of the Sustainable Health Review, the recently-released blueprint for the State Government for rebalancing WA’s health system over the next 10 years and ensuring it can be sustained for future generations.
WAPHA is responsible for planning, guiding and directing investment towards important primary care services across WA. As the operator of the State’s three Primary Health Networks, which form part of the national Australian Government PHN initiative, it works closely with GPs, service providers, government and its agencies, and communities.
It is forming partnerships in country and metropolitan areas to provide locally accessible quality care, and many of these digital health tools are making it easier to link services and identify regional priorities in mental and physical health.
Annually, WAPHA invests $46 million into critical mental health services, $52 million into a combination of other programs designed to address public health priorities and $3.5 million to support GPs, including providing data and decision-making support services.
Learn more – Watch the full Better Health, Together – Digital Health video.
Digital health – how we help.
Helping general practice to embrace digital technology.
My Health Record – control your health information securely in one place.
CEO appointment to Australian Digital Health Agency Board.
Hear from Sustainable Health Review Chair, Robyn Kruk.