GPs get prepared for e-health records

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has launched revised information security standards and a workbook in order to prepare GPs for the Federal Government’s Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR).

RACGP National Standing Committee e-health chair, Dr John Bennett, told Computerworld Australia the revised standards are more comprehensive than the previous Computer Security Guidelines and have been broken into two components, one for information and the other as the workbook.

“The idea with the workbook is to make it easier for a practice to be able to use the information or recommendations contained in the standards and then to make it aligned to their practice,” Bennett said.

Bennett said it will enable a practice that lacks internal skills or structure to do things such as name a person or persons responsible for the supervision of their information security. It will also allow them to then identify the need to outsource to the right people to do it on their behalf.

“There’s been an increase on the requirements that practices might want to undertake, although it’s fair to say that can be based on their capacity to do so, but for certain things is should be essential,” he said. “GPs should really be running a firewall of some sort in between their system and the outside but it’s amazing how some practices still don’t do that.

“It’s also a response to the federal government’s requirements around the PCEHR; the college knew this was coming and that it will place a greater responsibility upon general practices and get them prepared for the PCEHR.”

He said that GPs will no longer be protecting just their information but also information that could potentially be entered by other parties including the patient.

The revised standards have been in progress for about a year, Bennett said, with the college enlisting the help Edith Cowan University’s Trish Williams who specialises in the security of healthcare systems.

“Previously we’ve done it in-house and used some external support to but it’s a far more complicated area than it ever used to be.”

“We’d like to think that what we’ve got here are a set of recommendations that are practical and implementable and would give very reasonable reassurance to patients that their information is being kept carefully.

The college has also launched video consultation standards to support primary healthcare with the aim to guide GPs through video consultations and provide a safety and quality framework.

The new standards outline safety and quality issues pertinent to GPs offering video consultations with Australian registered medical specialists.

The federal health department recently released draft legislation for the $466.7 million PCEHR, following the Concept of Operations release earlier this month.

The draft outlined the process for consumers, healthcare providers and data sources to register for the e-health system but was criticised by the Australian Medical Association (AMA) as it still failed to address the issue of availability of critical information for practitioners.

The department has also confirmed it is in final negotiations for the third round of funding for the project to be allocated in November to the National e-Health Transition Authority (NeHTA).

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU


Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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