Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Surely This Is A Problem That Can Easily Solved By Proven E-Health Technology. All It Needs Is Will, Proper Sponsorship and Governance.
This appeared last week.
Date April 22, 2015 - 12:15AM
Victorians are dying because of inadequate IT systems for hospital staff to communicate crucial information about their care to GPs, doctors say – with many still relying on faxes.
Despite more than $1 billion being spent on healthcare technology over the past decade, the Victorian branch of the Australian Medical Association says thousands of patients are being shunted around between doctors every day without a standardised system to efficiently transmit their personal information.
The chairman of AMA Victoria's section of general practice, Dr Michael Levick, said this "ad hoc" approach to communicating patients' diagnoses, test results and treatments was so dangerous, he knew of patients who had died as a result.
In one recent case, he said a patient bled to death after being discharged from hospital because they were on the blood thinning drug warfarin and did not realise they had to get their GP to check their dose in the following days.
"They did turn up to their GP but their GP had no idea they were on warfarin because there was no communication and their blood thinned too much. The patient died," he said. "That can easily happen."
Dr Levick said while most GPs kept safe electronic records of their patients' history and received secure email messages from pathology and diagnostic imaging providers, there was a major breakdown between GP clinics and hospitals.
He said when patients were discharged from hospitals, their GPs could receive anything from a phone call, fax, email or printed letter explaining their diagnoses and treatments, and what needed to happen next. Sometimes, though, they received nothing at all.
"There is no reliable form of communication that everyone uses … so no one can rely on anything that comes out as being the full truth," he said. "In terms of patient safety and inefficiency, it is a huge issue."
The ABC covered the same topic here:
April 22, 2015
Doctors in Victoria say patients are dying due to inadequate technology and poor communication between hospitals and local GPs, and have called for $50 million to help fix the problem.
Privacy laws mean emails about patients medical history have to be encrypted, but only a few hospitals have the technology to do that.
The chairman of the Australian Medical Association Victoria's section of general practice, Dr Michael Levick, said vital patient information was instead being passed on via written notes or by fax.
He said that meant updates about major changes to patient treatment while they were in hospital were often delayed or even missed completely.
Dr Levick said communication methods between GPs and hospitals had not changed much in the past two decades.
"It is either a handwritten or typed piece of paper that comes with the patient, sometimes fax, sometimes there's a phone call from the doctor at the hospital to the general practitioner," Dr Levick said.
"Sometimes there's a letter in the mail that comes eventually, or sometimes there's absolutely nothing.
"Some hospitals do have the ability to send secure messages, which is like an email which arrives at the doctor's surgery immediately, but that is few and far between.
"This leads to patients not getting adequately treated or monitored when they come out of hospital."
Dr Levick said in one instance a patient died because their GP was not told about their blood thinning medication, which required daily monitoring.
What is missing here are the management and governance systems that makes sure the information flows between hospitals and service providers and a little money to get things organised.
Already most GPs can receive secure clinical messages and already most service providers can send secure clinical messages.
It’s the will, governance and management that is missing!
Sadly to get to where we need to be - here and in the rest of the country - we need Government(s) to be acting as enablers and supporters and organisations, like the AMA to push! With that happening this is an easily soluble problem that should have been fixed ages ago!
Posted by Dr David G More MB PhD at Wednesday, April 29, 2015