NACCHO ehealth news:SA mob prepares to go live with PCEHR in Aboriginal communities

Eh ealth

From Kate McDonald Pulse IT Australia’s first Ehealth Magazine

NACCHO member Pangula Mannamurna Health Service in Mt Gambier last week went live with the national eHealth record system, allowing healthcare practitioners to upload shared health summaries to their clients’ PCEHRs.

Pangula is one of 10 Aboriginal community controlled health services and two Aboriginal community controlled substance misuse services in SA and is a member of the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia (AHCSA), which is co-ordinating the roll out of the PCEHR to the clinics serving Aboriginal people in the state.


AHCSA’s eHealth program manager, Sarah Ahmed, said nearly all of AHCSA’s member health services and the 30-odd clinics they run have applied to take part in the PCEHR, with six of the health services completing full registration so far. All of the health services use Communicare’s clinical information system, which is now PCEHR-compliant.

However, while Dr Ahmed said the idea of the PCEHR was an attractive one to many Aboriginal people and the health services that care for them, the process of actually applying to take part in the system has been fraught with difficulty, and it’s not just the usual challenge of remoteness that has caused most of these problems.

“I would have to say remoteness is the least important difficulty,” Dr Ahmed said, stressing that her viewpoint is that of AHCSA, not the individual clinics. “The largest obstacle has been confusion about processes because of all the different bodies that need to be involved.


Good news story about Roy and an update on Telehealth- the New Bush Telegraph


Staff changes NACCHO ehealth and Telehealth

Roy Monaghan (pictured above) began work with NACCHO as the National Telehealth Delivery Officer in October 2011.

Roy will shortly be taking over the role of ehealth program manager as Rachael Giacarri moves on from this position.

While there have been some challenges to the program progression and the E Health rollout nationally, the project will continue to forge ahead in the coming months.

NACCHO wishes to thank Rachael Giacarri for her work on this project and wishes her well on future endeavors

Real stories of real people who are working to deliver better health outcomes for Aboriginal people

Prior to NACCHO, Roy worked since 2009 for the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council.

He holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Master of Professional Accounting Degrees and has a passion for improving Indigenous health through Aboriginal self determination and well functioning community controlled organisations delivery effective primary health care to the people.

He firmly believes that ‘closing the gap’ is something that will be achieved with, and though the hard work and perseverance of the people working in Aboriginal community controlled health services throughout the country and is something that he wants to be part of.

Roy looks forward to supporting a regular Ehealth/Telehealth Newsletter

The New Bush Telegraph: Telehealth for Rural and Remote Practice

The Rural Health Education Foundation will be broadcasting a live panel discussion and a documentary on telehealth next Tuesday, 29th January.

 The documentary will showcase stories from clinicians and patients who have been using telehealth for a while and the impact this technology is having for patients in rural and remote Australia accessing treatment and the primary healthcare teams involved. Two key stories include:

Spanning the Torres Strait: A Telehealth Story – how the Diabetes Centre at the Cairns Base Hospital QLD runs telehealth consultations across Far North Queensland, Cape York and the Torres Strait.

The case study features Prof Ashim Sinha, Debi Deans, Dr Samuel Jones and a number of other interviews with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and patients.

Townsville linking with Mt Isa – Mt Isa in north west Queensland is one of the regions connected to Townsville via telehealth.  Without these links, patients have to travel sometimes for days, to see the specialist.

Shaun Solomon, Head of Indigenous Student’s Network at MICRRH shares his story of his mother’s oncology treatment through telehealth consultants and how the reduction of travel whilst undergoing treatment has had such a positive impact on her and her family’s well-being.

The panel will discuss myths and misunderstandings; what they wish someone had told them when they were starting and the difference it is making to their practice and to their patients.

The panel include: Ms Carol Bennett – CEO, Consumers Health Forum; Prof Isabelle EllisProfessor of Nursing: Rural and Regional Practice Development, University of Tasmania; Dr Ewen McPhee – General Practitioner, Emerald QLD; Dr Sabe Sabesan – Director of Medical Oncology, Townsville Hospital QLD; Ms Di Thornton – Director of Nursing, Pinnaroo Hospital SA; and Dr Angus Turner – Ophthalmologist, Lions Eye Institute, Nedlands WA (via video teleconference).

Tuesday 29th January 2013
Rural Health Channel (VAST Channel 600) OR
Register to view the online webcast

NSW, ACT, TAS & VIC; 7.30pm SA, 7.00pm QLD, 6.30pm NT; 5.00pm WA

Stories from The New Bush Telegraph: The Impact of Telehealth documentary will be broadcast half an hour prior to the live panel discussion.

CPD Accredited: RACGP Cat 2 (2 points), ACRRM (1 point)

Visit the Foundation’s Telehealth webpage for more detailed information.

AMA checklist to help prepare ACCH’s for ehealth incentives as much as $12,500 per practice per quarter.


With time running out for general practices to meet the new Practice Incentives Program (PIP) e-health incentive requirements, the AMA today issued a comprehensive checklist to help general practices undertake the many steps, some complex, needed if they are to remain eligible for incentive payments.

From tomorrow, general practices have just 41 business days to meet the new requirements or lose their incentive payments, which can be as much as $12,500 per practice per quarter.

Concerned about the tight deadlines and lack of timely coordinated Government support and advice for GPs, the AMA has fast tracked its checklist to help the general practice community be better informed about what is required of them before 1 February 2013.


NACCHO ehealth Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) project

The AMA checklist brings together forms, information and instructions from the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA), the Department of Human Services, the National e-Health Transition Authority (NeHTA), and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

The new PIP eHealth incentives for general practice are:

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said that compiling all the information into a singlepackage is work that should have been done by the Government and its agencies.

“We hope our checklist will save time and hopefully preserve valuable income for busy general practices around the country,” Dr Hambleton said.

“Our checklist shows clearly that there is a lot of work to be done for medical practices to meet the new PIP e-health requirements.

“Having compiled this information over some considerable time, the AMA was just yesterday advised that general practices will not be able to register for the digital certificate required for secure messaging, which is a necessary step towards eligibility for the PIP e-health incentives, until 10 December 2012.

“We have also discovered that there is no current mechanism to verify the installation of their software, which is another requirement for eligibility.

“The AMA supports the PCEHR, but we also support fair and orderly processes to allowgeneral practices to properly prepare for its full implementation.”

The AMA is currently polling its members on whether they think their general practice willhave the first four ePIP requirements in place by 1 February 2013.

The checklist is available at

30 November

Remote Aboriginal people have more to gain from electronic-health than most.

120818 Glance

Picture: Richard Polden Source: The Australian

By: Stephen Pincock The Australian August 18, 2012

Glance and his colleagues developed the system, known as Medical Message Exchange, with the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services Council, an umbrella group for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in towns and remote communities in the region.

BY the time David Glance joined the University of WA’s Centre for Software Practice in 2001, life had already handed him a number of rewarding experiences.

After finishing a doctorate in physiology in the mid 1980s, Glance shifted his focus to the intersection of high finance and high technology and started designing the digital innards of trading room technology for London firms.

A few years later, with the dotcom bubble deflating, he found himself in the US headquarters of Microsoft in Redmond, Washington.

But he considers working with health workers in remote northwestern Australia for the past five years “the single most significant project I’ve worked on”.

Put simply, the project enables doctors, nurses and other health workers to co-ordinate the care of about 26,000 mostly indigenous patients across the vast distances of the Kimberley, by accessing medical records online.

Glance and his colleagues developed the system, known as Medical Message Exchange, with the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services Council, an umbrella group for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in towns and remote communities in the region.With a patient’s consent, GPs, hospitals, visiting specialists and allied and mental health professionals can share their record, which includes all care plans, medications and communications.

There may appear to be something incongruous about developing a digital solution to the health needs of people living the least urban, least technologically connected lives in the country.

But remote Aboriginal people have more to gain from electronic-health than most, says Tamati Shepherd,, chair of the National Indigenous Informatics Special Interest Group in the Health Informatics Society of Australia.

The very remoteness of many indigenous communities, and the nomadic lifestyles of many Aboriginal people in places such as the Kimberley, make it difficult for healthcare workers to keep the detailed medical records considered vital for good healthcare.

“Keeping track of their health can be really hard,” says Shepherd. An e-health record can serve as a kind of digital glue, he says, keeping the healthcare system together.

This is critical as indigenous people are at high risk for chronic conditions such as diabetes that require careful, long-term monitoring, and have an unconscionably low average life expectancy. These are problems that have defied many well-intentioned initiatives, but Shepherd believes IT can make a difference: “Technology can have a huge impact in the health of indigenous communities.”

Trevor Lord, a GP who has worked in the Kimberley for the past two years, can testify to the difference MMEx makes. “One of the really nice things about this record is if I’m on call in Broome and a nurse calls from Beagle Bay about a patient, I can look up their record and check the details.”

And when Lord prescribes a drug, the nurse on the other end of the line doesn’t need to scribble down the information on the back of her hand. Lord enters the details on to the e-record. “It doesn’t matter where you are or where the patient is. We can all keep in contact with each other and do the best for the patient.”

According to Lord, an antenatal record added to the MMEx system about a year ago is invaluable. Previously, hospitals often had to ring three or four clinics to piece together a woman’s pregnancy record. “Now it doesn’t matter where the lady has her antenatal care done, because its all in the record.”

The project garnered global attention in 2010 when the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development produced an e-health report and chose an early version of MMEx as a case study. Regionally, health organisations in other states and in New Zealand adopted it. “We have around 250,000 patients in MMEx and about 10,000 health providers,” Glance says.

One key to the project’s success was the input from clinicians from the start.

“That’s what’s exciting about this project. It’s not just us as a software supplier sitting in Melbourne or Sydney … dreaming up what a disconnected group of GPs want. I’ve held meetings with customers in the emergency department. It’s that level of engagement that really triumphs what we’re doing.”

At a health informatics conference in Sydney last month, University of Tasmania IT expert Terry Hannan described an international example of the difference e-health records can make.

The story begins with a group of academics, including Hannan, brought to Kenya by Indiana University in the US and sitting in the dirt outside a remote village clinic. It ends with a web-based e-health record system, now used to treat 140,000 HIV-positive people, that reaches more than half a million people through home-based counselling and testing and has reduced mother-to-child transmission rates of HIV to below 2 per cent.

Known as the Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare, the philanthropically funded service expanded its scope to include delivery of essential primary care services, and control of communicable diseases and chronic illnesses. Clinicians can use a smartphone to instantly access patient-specific data and also receive alerts when a scheduled test is overdue, or when a needed medication has not been started.

They can respond to reminders by wirelessly printing requisitions for laboratory tests, with all patient information pre-filled.

It now extends to social and economic benefits, Hannan claims: “The social effects of information management just exploded through society.”

Out of the Kenyan experience grew a wider project called OpenMRS. This free, open-source medical record software supports the delivery of healthcare elsewhere in Africa, North and South America, Asia and Europe.

Back in WA, Glance says hearing stories of how access to information has helped save lives is enormously satisfying. But he acknowledges it’s the doctors, nurses and health workers who make the biggest difference.

“I pale into insignificance compared to the efforts they’re putting in.”