Streamlining health data to improve patient care

18 November 2021

New technology designed to streamline communication between hospitals and community health providers is allowing clinicians to share important patient information faster and improve patient care.

SA Health Chief Digital Health Officer, Bret Morris, said SA Health, in partnership with the Australian Digital Health Agency, has trialled the secure messaging technology and is now rolling it out in a staged approach.

“Secure Messaging allows hospitals and healthcare providers, including general practitioners, private specialists and allied health professionals to communicate with each other in a safe and secure manner,” Mr Morris said.

“It reduces the use of fax machines and post, improving accuracy, privacy and the speed in which clinical documents can continue to be shared between sites.

“This technology makes the clinician’s work easier and more efficient, while contributing to improved patient care for South Australians.”

The Secure Messaging service is active at all Local Health Networks using either the Sunrise Electronic Medical Record (EMR) or the Open Architecture Clinical Information System (OACIS).

To date, it has also been activated for over 300 practises and more than 2,000 individual external health professionals in South Australia and surrounding states.

Mr Morris said the first stage of the rollout allows discharge summaries to be sent directly to participating health providers, giving them access to accurate and up to date patient summaries.

“Since the service was launched, around 40,000 discharge summaries have been sent out from SA Health sites which includes both metropolitan and regional based hospitals,” Mr Morris said.

“The system is being rolled out in a phased approach with eligible health providers sent a direct invitation to jump on board and around 10 practices being activated each day.

“Over time, the system will expand to include other documents like electronic outpatient referrals, specialist letters and other communications from SA Health so community health providers can receive an accurate reflection of a patient’s overall healthcare.”

Australian Digital Health Agency CEO, Amanda Cattermole, said it was exciting to see South Australia at the forefront of new technology.

“Healthcare providers and patients expect and deserve a digital health system that enables important clinical information to be safely and efficiently shared,” Ms Cattermole said.

“This technology meets rigorous security and privacy requirements, replacing existing manual processes and continuing to improve the interoperability of Australia’s broader digital health system.

“We are really excited to see so many healthcare providers already coming on board and using this emerging technology to help improve patient care.”

For more information, see the secure messaging page.