How our national eHealth system will benefit the aged care sector – Part 1

| 29 Aug 2013
eHealth benefits for aged care

iCareHealth is part of the National eHealth Transition Authority’s (NEHTA) aged care software vendors panel, which was established to implement the eHealth standards necessary to allow the aged care providers to access and use Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records (PCEHR).

Over the past year, iCareHealth and NEHTA have supported three leading aged care organisations – Donwood Community Aged Care, Lynden Aged Care and mecwacare – through the process of implementing the software that would allow their facilities to link through to and use the PCEHR system.

With the implementation of eHealth standards now complete, these aged care organisations have become some of the first in Australia to take the steps towards becoming eHealth ready. We have asked each of them to share their learnings and insights from the journey, which we’ve compiled to help you to better make the case for eHealth in your own organisation.

In the first part of this interview series, Lyn Hornsby from Donwood Aged Care answers the question, in what ways will the eHealth system benefit your organisation?

Donwood Community Aged Care: Lyn Hornsby, Director of Care

The obvious benefits of eHealth will be those that come with greater visibility of resident information. Electronic health records will give us the ability to access up-to-date information about a resident in real time, and share this knowledge with the acute sector including hospitals, GPs and specialists.

At the moment, when we transfer a resident to hospital, it takes a significant amount of time to prepare, print, photocopy and package up the information that we transfer with them. Nine times out of ten – despite transferring this information with the resident – we will still receive a phone call from the hospital requesting information about the resident.

With an eHealth system, the resident information that we require and that the hospital requires will be available electronically through the Shared Health Summary.

An eHealth record will also be beneficial at the time a resident is discharged from hospital because it will give us instant, online access to quality information without us having to wait for reports to come through in hard copy. Currently, discharge summaries and reports come through to us in unclear bits and pieces. This information is provided to us by a number of parties (radiology, pathology, physiotherapy, speech pathology, etc) so there are snippets of information here and there, but it is difficult to gain a complete view of everything that has occurred during the resident’s time in hospital. We will often miss out on details such as the various treatments the resident may have had, changes in medication, or the associated conversations around advanced care planning.

We expect electronic health records to greatly improve the flow of information between GPs and the facility as well. Using a paper-based system, we will often miss out on vital information such as a letter that comes from a specialist. This is usually sent straight to the resident’s GP and we typically wouldn’t receive a copy at all. With one source of truth, we will all have access to the same level of details concerning a resident’s medical condition.

This will also offer considerable benefits to new residents that join Donwood Aged Care from a different district or interstate. It’s often the case with new residents that are not from the area that we have to source a new GP for them. The issue is, we don’t get information from their previous GP. We miss out on those essential points of information about that person’s medical history including past medications and allergies. With that information available electronically, it will save time and also ensure accuracy of information.

Read the second part of the interview series to gain valuable insights from Lynden Aged Care and mecwacare on the benefits of eHealth.

(Image credit: Jscreationz)

Tags: aged care, ehealth, iCareHealth software, NeHTA, PCEHR, technology

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The iCareHealth Team

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