Thursday, 09 April 2020 12:42

COVID-19: My Health Record using technology to deliver social distancing for healthcare Featured

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The My Health Record digital health program says technology is poised to further help Australians during the COVID-19 pandemic through electronic prescriptions that will allow people convenient access to their medicines to people practising social distancing and self-isolation.

My Health Record says this new development will complement its service “which is already making critical health information available when it’s most needed”.

According to My Health Record, in Australia, evidence shows there are more than 250,000 hospital admissions annually as a result of medication related problems, and many of these are associated with poor availability of medicines information especially at transitions of care.

The agency says it is improving this access to medicines information and is an integrated record of what medicines patients are taking to ensure the most safe and effective care.

The My Health Record system has 1.81 billion documents in it including prescription and dispense information, Pharmacist Shared Medicines Lists, medical history, allergies, pathology and diagnostic imaging test results and immunisations, as well as hospital discharge summaries.

And the agency says more technology is on its way, and under the Australian Government’s National Health Plan for COVID-19, electronic prescriptions are now being fast-tracked to allow patients to receive vital healthcare services while maintaining physical distancing and, where necessary, isolation.

“Electronic prescriptions are an alternative to paper prescriptions, and the solution being fast-tracked will see a unique QR barcode ‘token’ sent via an app (if they have one), SMS or email to the patient. This will allow people in self-isolation convenient access to their medicines and will lessen the risk of infection being spread in general practice waiting rooms and at community pharmacies,” the agency says.

“This initiative is designed to support telehealth and will allow a doctor to generate an electronic prescription that patients can then share with a pharmacy.”

My Health Record says a significant amount of work had already been done to ensure that necessary upgrades to both pharmacy and prescriber software can be done quickly and electronic prescriptions are expected to be progressively available from the end of May.

Bettina McMahon interim CEO says, “the use of technology in healthcare has never been more critical, and Australia is in a better position than many other countries when it comes to digital health. Electronic prescriptions are another vital tool that will help to create a connected healthcare system for Australia”.

“Australians should take comfort that governments and healthcare providers have made significant investment in healthcare technology over the past 10 years. We are now able to fast-track adoption of this tech to respond to this pandemic in a 21st Century way.”

The agency has announced it is launching a new community communications campaign next week to help people understand the benefits of technology in healthcare and the need to ensure the health system is connected to provide better health outcomes for all Australians.

The campaign features Dr Andrew Rochford, a Medical Practitioner with an Undergraduate Degree in Medical Science, Majoring in Anatomy and Neuroscience, Post Graduate degree from University of Sydney Medical School, Bachelor of Surgery with Honours.

Medically, Dr Rochford is trained in emergency medicine, having held Registrar positions at major teaching hospitals around Australia, including Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney, Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane and is currently working at the Northern Beaches Hospital.

My Health Record says Dr Rochford is a digital health expert with his own organisation ‘Docta’ which builds customised mobile smart clinics equipped with telemedicine and digital healthcare technology to improve access to healthcare resources and knowledge for people in remote areas round the world. The campaign will feature in radio, online (including catch up TV) and in social media.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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