Security problem not so intractable

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State, Territory and Commonwealth governments are supporting new standards for secure messaging, saying that the standards will be mandatory in future procurement for applicable systems

The joint statement was shared late last year at a workshop attended by representatives from clinical and secure messaging software suppliers, governments and clinical representatives.

The Australian Digital Health Agency says it has been working with industry and governments over several years to achieve interoperable secure messaging across different systems, which it says is necessary to accelerate the use of electronic messaging rather than fax machines and paper transmission.

The workshop launched the approach to national scaling for a consistent, standards-based approach to secure messaging across Australia, to enable healthcare providers to communicate effectively as part of the National Digital Health Strategy 2018-22.

The workshop was jointly chaired by Bettina McMahon, the soon-to-be interim CO of the Australian Digital Health Agency; Emma Hossack, CEO, Medical Software Industry Association; and Dr Nathan Pinskier, GP and former Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – eHealth and Practice Services.

“Many people across industry, governments and peak associations have been working with us since our first meeting in December 2016 to solve what some were describing as an intractable problem,” said Bettina McMahon.

“We’ve had quiet confidence that we could co-produce specifications and standards with industry and professionals, try them out in early implementations, and get to a point where AUstrlaia’s customers of these systems would require their use.

“We’re now at that point – with Governments confirming that future procurements will reference the standards as mandatory requirements.

“Once again government, the health sector and the software industry have come together to address a key priority in the National Digital Health Strategy.

“It is this level of cooperation and shared insights that will let us achieve the benefits of digital health.”

Emma Hossack said, “There is work underway on a standards framework, trust framework and federated directory solution which is marvelous.

“We have consensus that these will be developed collaboratively and in keeping with the broader digital health interoperability approach.

“Whilstthis can’t be rushed, we are optimistic that future development will occur through agreed standards, validation and conformance which is good news for all Australians using the health system.”

Dr Nathan Pinskier said, “In the last three years, we have witnessed a significant level of industry collaboration and commitment in order to resolve a major deficiency in healthcare secure messaging being the lack of seamless interoperability between disparate software products.

“In this new decade of 2020, this collaborative program is now poised to deliver tangible benefits to both healthcare providers and their patients.”

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1 Comment

  1. Fax will no longer be allowed for health agencies after December 2020 in both New Zealand the U.K-
    So, hopefully, Australia will follow this very sensible and long overdue trend ASAP!!

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