Thursday, August 29, 2013

This Seems To Be A Trend That Is Worth Watching The Private Sector Stepping Up In E-Health.

This appeared last week.

At your fingertips

19 August, 2013
A growing number of practices are offering online services that benefit their patients and their business.
General practices used to only interact with patients in person or over the phone. Now they’re starting to offer online services through their websites, including booking appointments and receiving test results, referral letters and repeat scripts.
Bondi Junction Medical Centre in Sydney began offering online services in March and the experience has been highly satisfying, says practice manager Rakesh Vyasabhattu.
The benefits reaped by the GPs are primarily time saved and extra income. For example, the GP and patient agree beforehand that test results will be available online for the set fee of $20.
The GP then simply ticks a box in the medical record and the patient, who registers on the practice website with a user name and password, accesses the results when they’re ready, without having to ring the GP, says Mr Vyasabhattu.
Referral letters and repeat scripts are also available for a fee of $20, while booking appointments is free at the centre. The convenience is what appeals to many patients, Mr Vyasabhattu says.
“They don’t have to ring and be put on hold; they can access us and do these things 24/7,” he says.
“For our receptionists, the main benefit is less time taking phone calls, which makes them more available to speak to patients at the reception desk and also respond to the needs of the doctors.”
Online service providers
Online services made available through practice websites are in the early days of uptake. Heather Grain, director of course development at eHealth Education and council member at the Australasian College of Health Informatics, estimates that fewer than 10% of practices in Australia are currently offering these services through their website.
“The level is much higher in countries like the UK where the government strategy has been driving the uptake, whereas in Australia, the government focus has been on IT communications related to clinical care,” she says.
“As a result, private companies, as well as GP enthusiasts, are driving the uptake of online services through practice websites.”
These companies provide online services either embedded into a practice’s existing website or include them as part of a package of setting up a new practice website. These companies also can provide e-consultation capability, practice newsletters and patient health information for the website.
Practices that don’t have a website can use providers for online booking appointments such as 1stAvailable and Health Engine.
Lots more here:
What needs to be noticed here is the services that are being offered are the services patients want and that are not deliverable via the PCEHR. They are also being provided by private and not government entities.
To be able to make appointments, provide script repeats, provide referrals and access to test results you need to be to interact with a live local clinical system and not an delayed secondary and possibly incomplete system.
Combine this structural problem with the user unfriendliness of the current implementation and it is clear the PCEHR is a major failed design in terms of really delivering what patients actually want and would value.
Practitioners may also find the level of engagement with their patients and the additional income that is possible rather a win-win.
As the title says, well worth watching how this plays out in the future.

1 comment:

Paul Fitzgerald said...

Whilst at it's base level, this is "eHealth", it is really just customer service -something that has been available to customers for years in many other industries. About time. Trouble is, I doubt we will see this as a growing trend for some time. Having said that, it is a use of IT to actually benefit the patient and the practice, unlike the PCEHR.