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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

This Sounds Like Good News for Provider to Provider Communication in Australia.

Dr Oliver Frank cleverly noticed this piece of news from the AMA on Friday last week.

GP Network News Issue 09, Number 38 - 13 November 2009

13 November 2009 - 4:00pm


Scanning and storing electronic referrals and requests

Following Medicare Australia’s review of electronic referrals and requests, individual public key technology certificates are no longer required for provider-to-provider electronic referrals and requests. In addition, the requirement for independent third party verification for referrals or requests scanned for storage has been removed. This change is the result of discussions between Medicare Australia and its stakeholder consultative group, of which the AMA is a member.

More here:


The implication of this as I see it is to just make the whole process of referring from one doctor to another doctor or other provider (e.g. allied health) that much simpler than it has been to date for the referring doctor to be sure the referral will be honoured by Medicare Australia and a benefit paid to the recipient of the referral at the appropriate rate.

Note this in no way removes the need for referrals to use a secure, encrypted messaging environment to ensure security and privacy of the patient information. All that has been removed is the need to apply a digital signature – using PKI – to the referral.

As a second, and slightly confusing point, the specialist can now keep a scanned copy of a referral rather than the original paper without needed third party verification of the scan.

Both these steps should have the effect of reducing the ‘friction’ of information flows within the health sector and can thus only be seen as very good things.



Anonymous said...

If there is no PKI signature and no attestation (third party verification) and no paper original then there is no way to prove the authenticity of the referral. What this has done is downgrade the importance of this as a legal document.

I hope they don't follow suit with more important clinical documents, such as the prescription.

Dr David More MB, PhD, FACHI said...

I think you need to be careful about perspective here. I agree prescriptions need to be securely and accurately transmitted as the consequences of getting it wrong can be dire. An erroneous referral is much less so I would argue - hence I am happy to make their movement rather less onerous - while still ensuring security of transmission.

I also see specialist letters and discharge summaries as very, very important put needing less authentication than prescriptions.


Anonymous said...

"Securely and accurately transmitted" has nothing to do with the changes to referals that you mentioned. It is the ability to prove the provenance of a document after it has been received and stored.

Dr David More MB, PhD, FACHI said...

I don't think I said it did. You need both for prescriptions but the standard can be a bit less as far as provenance is concerned for the others. Not, of course that I am encouraging faking!