E-health test site kicks off e-discharge pilot

A Katoomba-based hospital has kicked off a trial under which it will share electronic discharge summaries with GPs and vice versa, ahead of the Federal Government’s Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) launch in July 2011.

The trial is being conducted by the Greater Western Sydney (GWS) PCEHR lead implementation site and was funded by the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) and the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA).

It will be conducted between the Blue Mountains District Anzac Memorial Hospital and local GPs. The test site will be led by a consortium including Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District, Western Sydney Local Health District, the Children's Hospital at Westmead, WentWest (Western Sydney Medicare Local), the Nepean, Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury-Hills Divisions of General Practice.

A spokesperson for the lead site for PCEHR in Greater Western Sydney told Computerworld Australia that the site had been testing e-health records standards and specifications in real-life settings to prepare for the national rollout.

“Greater Western Sydney is trialling how e-discharge summaries from hospitals and community health will be shared with GPs and how GPs shared health summaries will be shared with hospitals and other health providers in the public health system,” the spokesperson said.

To date, 12 GPs have signed up for the trial and about 40-50 electronic discharges have been sent out per week.

The trial will be ongoing until the national PCEHR launch, but will be rolled out to other hospitals in the GWS area in March 2012, with larger hospitals expected to come on board by early April.

“GWS is one of 12 lead implementation sites chosen by DoHA to test out components of the PCEHR and then NEHTA will eventually be rolling out the whole program at a national level.

“What we’ve been developing in GWS has been aligned to what NEHTA is planning for the national program, once the national program is rolled out in 2012-13 then everyone who is part of the GWS program will be able to tap into the national project.”

NEHTA chief executive, Peter Fleming, said hospital had been selected due of its close ties to the local community and GPs.

"This is a great example of partnerships between the local hospital and local GPs to make it simpler to share information and support continuity of care," Fleming said in a statement.

According to Fleming, statistics show that 78 per cent of Australian GPs are not directly informed that their patient has been admitted to hospital, and 73 per cent do not directly receive discharge summaries.

The GWS site will also be implementing the electronic blue book from May 2012, the spokesperson said.

“The blue book is the first personally controlled electronic health record here in GWS because it is the first health record which is given to parents when a baby is born. It will be available to mothers for their babies who are born in a public hospital maternity ward in GWS.”

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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