Axe the fax


The push is on to ditch old paper-based, electronic messaging equipment, with new incentives announced 

The Australian Digital Health Agency has today announced an incentive to accelerate the replacement of paper-based electronic messaging in healthcare.

The new incentives will speed up “clinical software provider adoption of standards to deliver enhanced secure messaging functionality into their systems by 2020,” the Agency says.

Eliminating paper-based messaging in healthcare is a priority of the National Digital Health Strategy, which was approved in 2017 by all states and territories through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council.

Under an agreement, the Agency will provide $30,000 to software vendors to integrate new standards into their existing clinical information and secure messaging systems, which will enable health professionals using different platforms to securely send information to their patients and other health professionals.

All private vendors that currently operate a clinical information or secure messaging system with secure messaging capabilities, at two different sites as a minimum, are eligible.

The Agency says it has been working with the software industry and healthcare providers to develop standards to improve the secure exchange of healthcare information.

The software industry, the clinical community and the Agency agreed on new interoperability standards for secure messaging in 2018 that will ensure different systems can talk to each other.

Following the successful trialling of the co-designed standards in 2018, the Agency is encouraging widespread adoption as part of the program.

Many healthcare professionals are already using secure messaging platforms; however, many of these platforms are not compatible with one another, meaning healthcare professionals cannot send information to one another and instead need to use unreliable fax machines or the post, the Agnecy says.

Consumers Health Forum of Australia CEO, Leanne Wells said, “A modern, connected health system requires modern communication technologies. Manila folders of paper records and fax machines aren’t good enough in the 21st century – secure, robust and interoperable messaging is fundamental to creating the patient-centred health system Australia needs and deserves.”

Further information on this initiative and vendors can express their interest to be involved is available on the Agency’s website.

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