Demystifying e-health

On Tuesday 26 November, health and community professionals in the west gathered together for the first time ever to discuss and demystify the nebulous mechanisms of eHealth. HealthWest’s goal was to form new partnerships and plan a collaborative future for eHealth to ultimately improve the consumer’s health journey. eHealth is defined as:
“Using information technology to facilitate the seamless delivery of health care and empower consumers.”
To further elucidate the notion of e-health we watched “what is e-health,” a short video by eHealthAus – Click here to view it.

Hosted by Libby Jewson (HealthWest), the Demystifying eHealth Forum consisted of presentations by key players in the burgeoning world of eHealth. Libby began the forum by narrating Jo’s story (shown below) as a reminder that the consumer’s wellbeing was the central focus when it came to eHealth and to ensure the audience kept the consumer’s best interests in mind throughout the day.

Jo’s Story

Take a moment to think about Jo.
Jo has multiple health problems: he is a long term diabetic with heart problems, little money, no GP, he needs council home services and has very little social support. Wouldn’t it be ideal if Jo was able to establish a relationship with a GP, work with community health, the council and others to address his chronic care? And all the while, those who are working with him know exactly what his health goals are, who he is working with to assist him with his health and how to update his details when they do work with him so Jo can confidently work on his self-identified goals….and we could achieve all of this with the ethos of mutual professional respect and understanding.

Larissa Briedis Policy Manager from the National eHealth Transition Authority (NEHTA) followed with a presentation about the bigger picture of eHealth. Larrisa talked about components of eHealth which lay foundation for Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR). So far over 1 million people have signed up to PCEHR.

Peter Williams, Principal Advisor eHealth Policy and Information Management (Department of Health) spoke about the Victorian perspective on eHealth. Peter presented the Ministerial Review of Victorian Health Sector ICT. Some of the recommendations of the review were:

  • Greater local accountability and ownership with local choice of product
  • Statewide standards focused on interoperability
  • Governance Council established to advise on investment priorities

Hosi Stankovic Senior Account Executive (DCA eHealth Solutions) spoke about secure messaging and e-referrral.
Hosi stressed the importance and benefits of secure messaging systems such as:

  • Capture communications electronically close to the source to reduce errors
  • Improve systems and processes
  • Secure messaging as an extension of this process

Panel communication with GP’s and interoperability
Chaired by Jenny Donaldson eHealth Senior Liaison Officer (MRNWM Medicare Local), a discussion panel was gathered. Panel members Hosi Stankovic (DCA eHealth Solutions), Nikki Breslin (Healthlink) and Kye Cherian (ReferralNet) discussed interoperability. The panel members talked about the existing agreement between vendors regarding the interoperability of the systems and their commitment to working together to make the systems talk to each other.

During morning tea guests assembled into teams where they exerted their cerebral stamina to identify innovative eHealth solutions to current dilemmas in the health sector.

The final answers are below:

Cunning Clouds (Purple team)
A: Map current e-health initiatives in the west and traffic flow and develop a road map for the west (including time lines!).
Mighty Megabytes (Blue team)
A: Use consumers to drive the change: Utilize social marketing, create an app and host forums to inform and educate the consumer and support them in identifying a shared vision and implementing it locally.
Portal Powers (Orange team)
A: Healthcare provider group (as opposed to individual healthcare provider) listed on the Health Directory. Client can be referred to the provider group for comprehensive care by a management team. Eg mental health care team, diabetes care team etc
Wonderful Web Users (Green team)
A: Trying to get systems to talk to each other and simplifying information. I.e so EVERYONE knows where Jo has been and there is an accurate contact point for Jo.
Excellent Encryptions (Yellow team)
A: To establish western eHealth governance group (including consumers) to work on regional eHealth project and to shape future strategic directions in the west.

David Grace Deputy Chief Executive (Djerriwarrh Health Service) entertained the audience with his presentation: A local journey – Djerriwarrh Health Service and home monitoring. Like Australia’s very own Oprah Winfrey, David wowed the audience, calling members to the stage to trial the home monitoring equipment. He was able to test their blood pressure, weight and heart rate while they were up on the stage. David then shared some of the positive outcomes for consumers.

Jacky Close, Executive Officer (Outer East Health and Community Support Alliance) shared information regarding the E–shared care planning & coordination pilot project in which 9 PCPs have been involved. As part of the pilot an electronic platform for the e-shared care planning has been developed which features sections for live updates and communication. The next step is to develop a consumer interface.

Silvio Pontonio, Precedence Health Care (CDM net) presented a care planning platform which is currently administered by GPs but will soon be available to allied health professionals.

Discussion panel – Future of eHealth in the west
Chaired by Libby Jewson, a panel was again held to discuss the future of eHealth in the west. Panel members David Grace, Peter Williams, Gary Morris (INWM Medicare Local), Larissa Briedis, Mike Daley (Hobsons Bay City Council), Melania Koska (Western Health) discussed and supported all five answers to the group brainstorming session, in particular the idea around having an eHealth governance group in the west.
Congratulations to the blue team who won a prize for the most innovative answer!

At lunch guests were treated to a flavour-filled feast from caterers Sorghum Sisters, a collaborative endeavour between AMES, Carlton Primary School, Horn of Africa Communities Network and Department for Planning and Community Development.

We asked participants to rate their knowledge of eHealth before and after the forum and we have provided the results below.
Overall, it was an educational and entertaining day for all!

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