Melbourne leads AU$10m Victorian e-health rollout

Summary:Two community health agencies servicing the western suburbs of Melbourne and Bendigo have implemented Intersystem's Web-based TrakCare healthcare information system, the first deployments in a AU$10 million rollout across a number of Victorian health agencies.

Two community health agencies servicing the western suburbs of Melbourne and Bendigo have implemented Intersystem's Web-based TrakCare healthcare information system, the first deployments in a AU$10 million rollout across a number of Victorian health agencies.

In a first for Victorian community health, TrakCare will allow patient information to be captured within a single electronic medical record, allowing patients to only register once for most services including general practice, mental health, physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

Previously, the health centre had a "large number of systems," according to Clare Amies, CEO of Western Region Health Centre -- which has 13 different sites around inner and outer Melbourne -- making it necessary to repeatedly enter patient information into the various systems and databases for each site.

In addition to the reduction of duplicate entry of data, the system also allows the centre to better coordinate patient's appointments, according to Amies.

This has lead to significant cost savings, for example, by having appointment information in a single location. This has allowed the health centre to book interpreters over many appointments, instead of booking them individually for each one -- which often occurred while using the previous manual system. The change allows the health centre to avoid paying the minimum tariff of one and a half hours work for only one sitting.

The TrakCare system also allows the healthcare centres to create reports about referrals within and outside the organisation. The reports can aid in identifying when a patient can't be referred to a specialist service within the centre, such as when waiting lists are too long, for example, and where else they can be referred to externally.

TrakCare also helps identify in the meantime what other services are available that could be of use to patients on waiting lists, Amies said. For example, a diabetic wanting to see a booked-out dietician could have access to a diet educator, who might be giving a seminar in a clinic or who could point the patient to other relevant resources.

The allocation of resources will now receive a leg up from TrakCare's information, according to Amies. "We now have tangible data to take to the Department of Human Services -- we've been live for a year and we're just starting to collect some really good information," she said, allowing the health centre to "respond to the needs of the community and plan better".

The system has been built to adhere to privacy legislation, a spokesperson for the Department of Human Services said, adding: "There are processes in place to make sure privacy is upheld."

Patients are able elect whether or not to make their data available across the different sites and services, Amies said. "Sometimes people don't consent to everybody and sundry reading their notes," she said, but added: "Not many elect out. Most people are happy that it's secure in that people can't access it unless they're authorised."

Ten other health agencies are currently implementing TrakCare and intend to go live between now and the end of 2008. Another 12 agencies have entered into an expression of interest stage which should see them implement TrakCare by the end of 2009.

Implementing TrakCare is part of the Victorian government's AU$360 million HealthSMART program.

Topics: Government : AU, Health

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Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for t... Full Bio

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