Two Meetings Highlight Disparity in eHealth in Remote Australia

Meeting 1. E-Health Conference, Revolutionising Australia’s Health Care

An invitation only two day seminar on e-Health was held in Melbourne on November 30 and December 1st. Apparently a “draft concept” of the shared e-health record concept was shown. It seems like there is $55 million splashing about for projects based on the personally controlled e-health record (more about money later on).

The Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon gave the opening address. Here is part of what she had to say.

Part of our job in embracing this change and exploring further opportunities is to explain to the wider public the benefits of this big step into the future.
Let’s consider some of the situations that face clinicians and patients today.

Take the case of a young mother whose two children suffer from asthma.

The children might have tried many asthma drugs on and off, and keeping track of what each child has tried is challenging – for parents, for doctors, for hospitals.
Or consider the case of a Melbournian retiree escaping to Darwin for a holiday, becoming sick and being raced to hospital by ambulance.

He arrives without his current tablets and is not in a condition to talk about his medical history. What does the ED team need to know to make the treatment effective?

Or let’s think about a carer’s perspective for a moment. Hundreds of thousands of Australians care for a loved one, many of whom can’t participate in their own care which might involve a GP, then local pharmacist, the district nurse, specialists and the local hospital.

There’s a constant worry that the wrong medication might be taken at the wrong time. These fears are well grounded – medication errors currently account for 190,000 admissions to hospitals each year (my italics).

And take the case of the hundreds of thousands of Australians with chronic disease. Many of whom want to better manage their diseases, but lack the connection over their information that can make this happen.

These scenarios reflect the kinds of real-life situations that occur all around Australia every day.

national electgronic health transition authority

Let me digress a bit here. It does have something to do with the second meeting.

Pharmacists reviewing medication histories and more pharmacists in wards in hospitals reduce error rates. And an electronic patient record should reduce them even further.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHO) are where Aboriginal Australians wish to receive their healthcare. There are five pharmacists I know of that work full time for an ACCHO.

Meeting 2. 28th June 2010 No title, attended by stake holders in remote Indigenous Health

This meeting was called after a presentation and some networking at the National Medicines Symposium. It was to discuss the lack of dispensing software, tools and training for remote area S100 ACCHOs and other Aboriginal Health Services.

  • Dispensing is usually done by Aboriginal Health Workers, Doctors and Remote Area Nurses who in the main have have no specific training for this task and may under-appreciate its importance in Quality Use of Medicines. In some states this may be illegal
  • Dispensing systems either stand alone or incorporated into electronic patient management systems for tasks such as labelling, recording of supplied medication and stock control are for the most part primitive or non-existent. Indeed in many cases medicines are dispensed with handwritten, incomplete, or no labels at all.
  • Yes, that’s right. We are spending millions on eHealth but in remote Australia we still can’t print a legible label for a patient’s medication. Does it surprise anyone that there seems to be no money to rectify this lack of not only dispensing, but no pharmacist involvement?

    Is it too far a stretch to think we are building a whizz bang house, but out bush it is on very poor foundations?

    Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record: #HCSMANZ Discussion on Twitter

    health care social media Australia and New Zealand

    This evening was the second Health Care and Social Media Tweetup. This week the discussion was on the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record

    About the same numbers, a few lurkers and a lot of side conversations compared to last week. Use the #HCSMANZ hashtag when joining in so all can see the discussion.

    The transcript of tonight’s meeting is here.

    A list of all links placed during the discussion is here

    The Tweetup is held each Sunday evening at 22:00NZ, 20:00AEDT, 19:00AEST, 19:30ACDT, 17:00AWST. Next Sunday 19th December will be the last for the year.

    If you wish to know more send a message to myself, Ed Butler or Ben Harris-Roxas or follow @hcsmanz on Twitter.

    You can set up a hashtag #hcsmanz on your twitter-feed to follow and participate in the discussion and even subscribe to a “newspaper”, The #hcsmanz Daily to see the interesting links produced during the discussion.

    There is a #hcsmanz page which shows the last 100 tweets and links to transcripts of each meeting.

    We look forward to seeing you next week.

    Healthcare and Social Media Discussion on Twitter

    health care social media Australia and New Zealand Last night Australia and New Zealand had their inaugural “Tweetup” using the hash-tag #hcsmanz with about 20 participants from nursing, medical, pharmacy, public health, IT and others. A Tweetup will be held each Sunday evening at 22:00NZ, 20:00AEDT, 19:00AEST, 19:30ACDT, 17:00AWST.

    Twitter has been in the news a bit in Australia. Mainly due to the Australian newspaper outing a pseudonymous blogger and recently threatening to sue a journalism academic. A view that seems to have been taken by some in the media is that Twitter is full of anonymous trolls defaming away left, right and centre.

    What it really is is a terrific for communication and dissemination of information at whatever level you wish to use it, informally or in a more formal manner.

    Several regular discussion groups looking at the use of social media in health care meet on twitter at various times. The European Union have one as does the USA and Canada.

    Our first discussion looked at the recently released AMA guidelines “Social Media and the Medical Profession” and issues encountered in using social media in your health/healthcare setting. It already seems to have kicked a goal with the transcript being sent to the AMA Council of Doctors-in-Training and Guidelines Working group.

    If you wish to know more send a message to myself, Ed Butler or Ben Harris-Roxas or follow @hcsmanz on Twitter.

    You can set up a hashtag #hcsmanz on your twitter-feed to follow and participate in the discussion and even subscribe to a “newspaper”, The #hcsmanz Daily to see the interesting links produced during the discussion.

    There is a #hcsmanz page which shows the last 100 tweets and links to transcripts of each meeting.

    We look forward to seeing you next week.

    Before I finish up I thought I would show a couple of the more interesting links placed into the conversation last night.

    The first links to “Social Media – Telstra’s 3 Rs of Social Media Engagement” (PDF) and the second to an interesting slide show titled “IT, Professionalism, and Your Digital Identity” produced by Dr Stuart Morrison for fifth year medical students at Monash University in November.

    Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme – Fiscal Challenges

    The 109 page briefing document provided to the new Finance Minister Penny Wong by the Secretary of the Department of Finance and Deregulation is now online.

    Well the “expurgated” version is available anyway.

    There are a couple of pages related to health costs. “Health Reform – National Health & Hospitals Network” and “Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme – fiscal challenges”. These are highlighted within the report as their growth rate is above 2% and in the case of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme has a special appropriation for funds to run the program.

    The document can be found on the government website here or in my Google Documents below.

    And enjoy John Cleese as he looks for the Expurgated book of British Birds.

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