My Health Record spends AU$360k on integration with specialists software

Australian Digital Health Agency invests in nine Australian software vendors to help design My Health Record-integrated software for specialists.

The Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) has announced partnering with Australian software organisations to design software for specialists that integrate with its bungled My Health Record.

The ADHA has received nine designs from as many software vendors that it said could "seamlessly and securely" integrate the My Health Record into the current systems used by specialists, such as cardiologists or anaesthetists. The ADHA is investing a total of AU$360,000 -- AU$40,000 per design -- on the project.   

The ADHA said that in addition to funding, it would provide "design expertise" by working with each vendor's design teams to co-produce improvements in design with their users.

Best Practice Software, Clinic to Cloud, Clinical Computers, Genie Solutions, Intrahealth, Medical-Objects, Medical Wizard, Software for Specialists, and Zedmed will all work with the ADHA and specialists to develop their designs in the coming months.

According to the ADHA, some parts of the health sector have enthusiastically embraced the My Health Record, such as community pharmacies which it said have increased registrations from 20% in June 2018 to 86% in June 2019.

See also: More than 2.5 million Australians have opted out of My Health Record

With this industry partnership, the agency said it could now turn its focus to increasing the usage of My Health Record by specialists over the next 12 months.

"Many specialists already use My Health Record through software systems they use in public and private hospitals," ADHA wrote in a statement. "Having easy access to the My Health Record system in their private clinics as well will ensure a more complete picture of a patient is available during specialist consultations and improve continuity across care settings."

ADHA chief operating officer Bettina McMahon said part of the challenge is designing solutions that meed the need of specialists, explaining that the agency wants to support local clinical information system vendors integrate the My Health Record into their software, and doing it in a way that encourages specialists to embrace the system.

"We won't be specifying what changes should be made to systems. Instead, we will work vendors and their customers -- the specialists themselves -- to come up with designs that specialists and their practice staff will love to use, and which will benefit from the rich data provided by the My Health Record," she said.

It was revealed during Senate Estimates in February that a little over 2.5 million Australians had opted out of the government's online medical file.

A week prior, the Department of Health disclosed that by mid-November, almost 300,000 Australians had removed themselves from the My Health Record system and cancelled their existing electronic medical record.

Many people who wanted to opt out found that they could not, since a record was already created for them.

The ADHA in January said 6.45 million individuals had a My Health Record. At the time, the agency said that almost half a million of these accounts had been created on purpose by Australians, with the remainder automatically set up by the government during its trial periods.

Updated 4 July 2019 at 11.25am AEST: Clarified the co-design offer is AU$40,000 per software vendor. Amended the headline to reflect the correct total investment by the ADHA.

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