Wednesday 29 May 2013

eHealth – trials without tribulations

The 2nd Annual PCEHR Conference: The Journey Towards National eHealth Adoption, held in Sydney on 27 May, highlighted some interesting findings that demonstrated how keen many people with HIV have been to register for their own eHealth record.

According to the latest information from the government, there are now 155,000 registered users of the eHealth record. There has been a significant rise in registrations since assisted registration began earlier this year. Assisted registration enables healthcare organisations to help their patients with the process of signing up for an eHealth record.

As part of the third stage of development of the roll-out of eHealth, new elements will include the introduction of the National Prescription and Dispensing Service, child development information, and a soon to be available electronic health record app.

St Vincent's Hospital and Mater Health, Sydney, recently completed a very interesting trial of the eHealth record, where they integrated the eHealth record framework into various hospital services. They worked in collaboration with East Sydney and Murrumbidgee Medicare Locals.

To reach patients who would benefit significantly from using an eHealth record, they targeted particular patient groups through various St Vincent's clinics, including the HIV/Immunology/Infectious Disease Unit, Heart, and Diabetes. Of all the patient groups the hospital contacted, people with HIV were the most receptive, with almost 100% of the HIV-positive people targeted signing up.

Out of the total several hundred patients using the eHealth record, only one person to date has created any access restrictions. This could reflect the fact that not many people are concerned enough to restrict access to their record or, alternatively, it may indicate that the process is not clear. Nevertheless, the enthusiastic uptake of the eHealth record among people with HIV, suggests that, for many HIV-positive people, an eHealth record is an attractive proposition.

Next steps now should include an evaluation of the experience of people with HIV of their eHealth record, including benefits they perceive and problems they may have encountered.

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