E-health technology to improve care of Australia's chronically ill

E-health technology to improve care of Australia's chronically ill

Key figures involved in the creation and delivery of a new health information exchange project, using information technology as the link, believe the technology has the capacity to both improve the long term care of patients with chronic disease and reduce the cost of health care delivery throughout Australia.

The Primary Care Electronic Health Document Exchange (EDoX) project, managed by Brisbane North Division of General Practice (BNDGP), will use advanced communication technologies to give key care providers immediate access to current information about patients’ health conditions.

“EDoX is a revolutionary project that could ultimately mean the health system delivers more appropriate information and therefore better care,” said Gary Morgan, CEO of Queensland’s e-Health Research Centre, a key partner in the project.

“EDoX aims to improve the flow of information between general practice, community and domiciliary nursing, after hours services and public hospitals,” he said.

For example, if a patient with a history of stroke is taken to the emergency unit at a public hospital, specialists at the hospital will immediately be able to look at a summary of that person’s medical history and recent treatment, by logging onto their computers and accessing a central register of patient data. This will reduce duplication of service provision, reduce avoidable medical errors and ease pressure on emergency departments at hospitals.

“The health system currently relies heavily on paper copies of patient data, many of which are hand carried between practitioners and hospitals etc by the patients themselves. The documentation can therefore easily become out-of-date," added Morgan. "The increased exchange of information will improve the overall standard of care.”

Morgan said the project, which received $200,000 in federal government funding, aimed to overcome two emerging barriers to multidisciplinary care planning: 1) lack of information management and technology systems and clinical protocols to support the exchange of documentation between health agencies involved in patient care; and 2) the need for more ‘automated’ care plans.

The e-Health Research Centre has partnered with BNDGP and other project consortium members, Health Communication Network Ltd and HealthConnect, to undertake research into health information management and technological systems to support the project’s aims.

BNDGP President, Dr Ann McBryde said they look forward to working collaboratively with e-health on the project.

“The optimum outcome will be a patient centric information system that supports the management of chronic disease, and an automated self-populating care plan using structured data from general practitioners’ clinical software.

“The project team will also assess the capacity of the Division’s network to operate as a central repository and distributor for clinical information. We will seek to understand the user and clinical issues associated with the implementation of information exchange between multi-agency health care teams.”

Morgan said the e-Health Research Centre, a $15 million joint venture between CSIRO and the Queensland Government, focused strongly on the development of collaborative projects like EDoX, which involve research into next generation communication technologies to improve the treatment and care of critical health conditions.

Officially launched in May this year, the Centre works in collaboration with other leading health research groups and is a hub for the sharing of critical research findings and the generation of new ideas.

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