Fax-free health care a step closer

Wednesday, 19 July, 2017

Fax-free health care a step closer

Healthcare practitioners are a step closer to direct and secure communications with each other — without cumbersome fax machines. 

New technology will enable health data to flow securely from one healthcare provider to another — irrespective of the software they are using, the organisation they work for or with whom they are communicating.

The technology is being developed by a clinical consortium following a tender process earlier this year. Under the auspices of the Australian Digital Health Agency, work is underway with HealthLink and Telstra — with a range of healthcare providers across a variety of locations engaged in current trials. The objective is to develop solutions that allow secure messaging between healthcare providers with different clinical information systems messaging vendors, in a way that can be scaled nationally.

The judges of the success of this integration will be the healthcare providers themselves, who must give each project their tick of approval before the projects are deemed a success.

Dr Nathan Pinskier, chair of the RACGP Expert Committee on eHealth and Practice Systems, said the technology will have a big impact on the sector, where confidential patient records are regularly transmitted by dated systems such as facsimile and post.

“The number one issue to be resolved in healthcare communications is the ability for healthcare providers to electronically communicate with each other directly, seamlessly and securely,” Dr Pinskier said.

“The interoperability solution is within our grasp and I thank the Australian Digital Health Agency and its CEO, Tim Kelsey, for listening to the sector and making this a high-priority item.”

Kelsey said the agency has partnered with industry, jurisdictions and healthcare professionals and undertaken technical work over months to progress discussions from theory into clinical practice.

“I have been listening to key partners in the community on their aspirations for the Digital Health Agency and ways it can support key health priorities in Australia,” Kelsey said.

“Secure messaging between providers is one of the key themes that comes up in these discussions, and getting it right will create opportunities to leverage these communications for other purposes, including uploads to the My Health Record.”

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Henri Schmit

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