Tools launched to assist frontline emergency care staff

Tuesday, 19 November, 2019

Tools launched to assist frontline emergency care staff

A national initiative has been launched to support time-critical work and informed decision-making of frontline hospital emergency department (ED) clinicians through the use of patients’ My Health Record (MHR).

The Emergency Department Clinicians’ Guide to My Health Record and supporting resources — developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare in partnership with the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) — will provide practical information on accessing up-to-date MHR data for people requiring emergency care.

“Immediate access to additional information about a patient’s medical history can be crucial in time-critical settings such as EDs,” Commission Clinical Lead, emergency physician and Fellow of ACEM Dr Andrew Hugman said.

“My Health Record facilitates clinicians’ viewing of material that is otherwise hard to see outside of their regular hospital network. It’s not surprising that there is increasing interest among ED clinicians to better understand the system.”

More than 40% of emergency department presentations occur out of normal business hours. The MHR system can support hospital clinicians to access patient information out of hours and from outside their local hospital network.

“My Health Record does not replace information stored in local hospital records, but it can help us to retrieve other information more quickly, avoiding reliance on phone calls and fax machines to places like private pathology and radiology providers,” Dr Hugman explained.

“Ultimately, the better informed the clinician, the better the decision-making about their patients’ care. Australian health care is in the midst of a digital transformation, so it is essential all clinicians are made aware of how we can use digital innovation to achieve the best outcomes for our patients.

“This new guide explains the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of My Health Record to ED clinicians and where it can fit into their current practice. It has been written for clinicians by clinicians,” Dr Hugman said.

There has been a significant increase in the amount of clinical information flowing into the MHR system since February 2019. The rapidly expanding system already contains more than 3.4 million shared health summaries, 37 million prescriptions and 22 million pathology reports.

Professor Meredith Makeham, general practitioner and Chief Medical Adviser for the Australian Digital Health Agency, said MHR is making positive change in how clinicians treat patients.

“We are already seeing benefits to the health care of Australians, which will continue to grow as more health providers involved in a patient’s care contribute and access patient information on their My Health Record.

“This practical guide was specifically developed for emergency departments, but will be useful to any clinician working in a hospital setting who wants to further understand how My Health Record can better improve health outcomes,” Professor Makeham said.

The guide describes the types of clinical documents that may be included in a patient’s MHR and the origin of that information. There is also a focus on protecting vulnerable patient groups and legislative requirements that ED clinicians need to be aware of.

This year, more than 1300 ED staff from large tertiary referral facilities to small remote hospitals have attended one of the awareness sessions held by the commission across Australia as part of a My Health Record in ED Roadshow, with more planned following the release of the guide.

The MHR system is already widely used in the primary care sector by general practitioners, community pharmacists and allied health staff. Extending this use into hospitals will provide an important conduit of information between different health sectors.

“We are pleased to support the launch of this important resource alongside both national agencies,” ACEM Chair Dr Didier Palmer said.

“ACEM believes there is a strong case for emergency department clinicians to use My Health Record as part of routine care. The system helps close the information gap between general practice and hospital care, and will help deliver improved health outcomes for all Australians with a My Health Record.”

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