Allied Health Professions Australia (AHPA) is engaged in several projects intended to give allied health professionals a stake in updates to Australia’s digital health infrastructure, including My Health Record (MHR).
Allied Health Digital Reference Group
The Allied Health Digital Reference Group, created in part by AHPA with funding from the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA), is slated to conclude a three-part meeting series this month to determine the work needed to integrate allied health clinical information into the soon-to-be-revamped My Health Record system—this meeting series is to culminate in a high-level strategy document for use by the ADHA and other stakeholders.
This dovetails with March 14 discussions held by the Allied Health Industry Reference group, addressing the findings of the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce report, released in February; the report recommended digital health infrastructure such as My HealthRecord be updated to better serve multidisciplinary primary care.
Additionally, the meeting series overlaps with the handing down of $6.1m from the 2023 Federal Budget to improve and increase allied health professionals’ connection to MHR.
The Allied Health Digital Reference Group is developing recommendations for a fast, nationally applicable approach that facilitates efficient information capturing and sharing. The goal is for information to be easily identified and understood, and for future digital infrastructure updates to be applied to allied health information in parallel with other healthprofessional groups.
Since being introduced in 2012, allied health access to My Health Record has been limited. Up to this point, AHPs have not been able to: contribute critical health information to the MHR; choose suitable clinical information systems that are interoperable with MHR; access the information needed to inform practice at the point of care; participate in timely sharing of consistent data to support consumer, practice, and community-level planning; nor readily participate in real-time multi-disciplinary team meetings. This has been in contrast to the degree of access available to medical practitioners, according to AHPA Chair Antony Nicholas.
The keyword is ‘interoperable’. Modernising My Health Record to provide fluid, accurate and timely data between patients, medical professionals, and allied health professionals, as well as across systems and workflows is an enormous undertaking for which the details are currently scant.
“What you can do is refresh bits and pieces as you go, rather than do it in one big bang, which you might have to wait another 10 years for,” said Associate Professor David Rowlands, a digital advisor to the World Health Organisation.
This “big bang” approach is discussed in a paper due to be published in the August 2023 edition of the Journal of Medical Informatics: Allied health professionals’ experiences and lessons learned in response to a big bang electronic medical record implementation: A prospective observational study. It describes the impact of electronic medical record (EMR) implementation (My Health Record being an EMR implementation) on allied healthprofessionals’ acceptance, expectations and work efficiencies, and found that half of the surveyed participants agreed significant upskilling was required and that EMR workflows were not quick to learn.
KPMG is currently conducting a scoping study on behalf of the Department of Health and Aged Care, analysing barriers to adopting digital health tools, namely clinical information systems that are conformant with My Health Record (MHR), among allied healthprofessionals.
Expanding the Aged Care MHR Digital Template
In addition to the work of the Allied Health Digital Reference Group, AHPA is also working to expand its initial work on identifying critical clinical information for consumers receiving Aged Care services. With support from ADHA, AHPA aims to make this work applicable to all consumers receiving allied health care services. AHPA is conducting consultation with various working groups, committees, and councils to understand and navigate the challenges and nuances of integrating allied health information into MHR.
Featured in this edition
Ambiguity around the terms ‘delegation’ and ‘supervision’ have resulted in a wide range of interpretations of the allied health assistant (AHA) role, and consequently, some confusion around the appropriate way to work with AHAs. The greatest barrier to the effective employment of AHAs is the inefficient delegation by allied health professionals—partly due to a lack of awareness of the breadth of roles that AHAs can undertake.
We endeavour to highlight some innovative models of care that can employ AHAs to enhance patient care and improve the productivity of allied health service.