Australia to launch healthcare provider directory

The Australian Digital Health Agency, a statutory body responsible for implementing various digital health initiatives, has announced that it will launch an online platform where healthcare providers in the country can place update information about their services practitioners.

WHAT IT DOES

According to a press release, Provider Connect Australia maintains the accuracy of healthcare service practitioner contact details. It can also automatically send new details to nominated hospitals, pathology radiology services, public service directories, secure messaging providers others.

Previously, health organisations were required to fill out between 10 20 paper or online forms to notify other providers about the changes in their services or practitioner information. The ADHA said Provider Connect Australia eliminates that “substantial” red-tape burden.

Formerly called Service Registration Assistant, Provider Connect Australia was first tried out in Northern New South Wales last year, where it was found that 99% of participating practitioner records held in the health district’s address book were “out of date”.

WHY IT MATTERS

ADHA CEO Amanda Cattermole said the platform will enable “greater” interoperability the adoption of secure messaging across the healthcare system. She mentioned that secure messaging is a key strategic priority under Australia’s National Digital Health Strategy. The new initiative will help providers easily locate each other to “securely” share patient information.

The agency stressed that “accurate reliable” information about healthcare services is a “key foundation to support a digitally connected healthcare system”. As it eliminates the administrative burden of manually filling out forms to update information, it prevents inaccurate out-of-date information to find its way across the system, affecting efficiency quality of care.

The platform is also expected to bring benefits to patient care as having the most up-to-date information is “essential” for sending hospital discharge summaries, like treatment plans progress notes, to the right person “as quickly as possible”.

“The objective is to improve the efficiency of administrative processes for publishers subscribers managing their data help provide prompt, safe seamless patient care across settings providers,” Cattermole said.

The ADHA projects Provider Connect Australia to deliver over AU$30 million ($22.8 million) in yearly economic benefits by 2025.

ON THE RECORD

“Provider Connect Australia will deliver efficiencies for practice support staff who will only have to update any changes in practice information once will increase confidence at the point of care that all of the incoming information about patients will be there, that outgoing address books are complete up-to-date,” said ADHA Chief Clinical Adviser Dr Steve Hambleton.

“By providing this national service, the Agency can improve the quality reliability of healthcare service details in directories other services, including Medicare, significantly reduce the administrative burden on healthcare organisations,” Cattermole said.



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Roundup: NHS staff face redundancy under ICS reforms, GE Healthcare Wayra partnership more briefs

NHS ENGLAND STAFF FACE REDUNDANCY UNDER ICS REFORMS

Following plans to reform integrated care systems across the NHS, NHSE has stated that its employment commitment to protect jobs for most commissioning staff will not apply to senior NHSE/I staff in clinical commissioning groups.

The recently published new employment guidance has stated that there will be no commitment in relation to “senior posts within NHSE/I functions that are expected to be the responsibility/function of an ICS in the future”.

NHSE/I said in a statement: “Assessments will take place locally for senior colleagues when new executive level structures are confirmed. The NHS will ensure that as we work on these important changes, staff are fully supported any uncertainty is minimised.”


GE HEALTHCARE AND WAYRA ANNOUNCE AI STARTUPS

The Edison Accelerator in EMEA, a healthcare startup scale-up acceleration programme designed by GE Healthcare in partnership with the innovation organisation, Wayra UK, has selected five startups to become the first cohort.  

The startups all focus on applying AI to medical imaging, operational AI in oncology using AI to improve the patient experience. 

The startups that were chosen, demonstrate innovative scalable solutions to pressing problems in the healthcare sector such as diagnostic accuracy slow patient pathways, include, Legit Health, Spryt, Radiobotics, Lucida Medica Vinehealth.


BARKING, HAVERING AND REDBRIDGE TO IMPROVE STROKE CARE

UK-based Barking, Havering Redbridge University Hospital NHS trust is implementing AI-powered software to improve its response to stroke care.

The Brainomix software will analyse CT images of the brain blood vessels alert clinicians of any blocked blood vessels to indicate areas of damage.

The new technology encompasses a set of tools to help doctors diagnose heart attacks more accurately. It also includes an algorithm to detect lung cancer, a mental health app technology to identify undiagnosed spinal fractures.

The project comes off the back of the UK government announcing a £36 million AI research boost for the NHS, where 38 AI projects are set to benefit as part of the NHS AI Lab’s £140 million AI in health care award.


DUBAI HEALTH AUTHORITY INTRODUCES ONLINE HEALTH FACILITY INSPECTION

The Dubai Health Authority’s Health Regulation Sector has introduced online inspections for health facilities to accelerate the adoption of digital technology in the region.

Although in-person inspections will continue, the sector will adopt the digital method for areas where online inspections are possible. In February, DHA’s Health Regulation Sector introduced the pilot then began implementing online inspections in March.

Dr Marwan Al Mulla, CEO of Health Regulation Sector at the DHA said: “We adapted to changes during the pandemic we saw an opportunity to enhance online inspections where possible. For example, for checking new services that are introduced in healthcare facilities etc. The inspections will ensure faster turnaround time, more efficiency will save costs as well. We have always focused on using healthcare technologies to improve efficiencies, speed up processes provide our stakeholders with added convenience.”


NORTHERN LINCOLNSHIRE AND GOOLE NHS FT LAUNCH TECH FOR COVID-19

Northern Lincolnshire Goole NHS FT (NLAG) has implemented the Healthcare Communications Patient Engagement Portal across its outpatient service.

The new platform is also supporting NLAG in its recovery from the COVID–19 pandemic by allowing patients to reschedule cancel appointments via their mobile devices, reducing the number of ‘did not attend’ appointments (DNAs).

The patient portal delivers digital appointment letters to patients, improving trust capacity easing admin burden amongst staff.

Since going live with the technology, over 26,000 digital messages have been delivered to patients, with 48% of users adding appointments to their calendars. In addition, through digital cancellations re-bookings, over 900 appointments have been reutilised for waiting-list patients.


GPS MISTAKENLY GIVEN ACCESS TO ONLINE PENSION DATA

A number of UK GPs found they were mistakenly given access to other people’s pension information in a system error which has been described by GP Survival chair Dr John Hughes as a ‘serious breach of confidentiality’.

The glitch meant that when GPs looked at their accounts, the system would present a list of names their pension numbers, which could be used to access someone’s pension payment details.  

This latest error follows news of around 1,000 GP practices having not received their QOF payments this month.

 



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Australia rolling out online healthcare provider directory

The Australian Digital Health Agency, a statutory body responsible for implementing various digital health initiatives, has announced that it will launch an online platform where healthcare providers in the country can place update information about their services practitioners.

WHAT IT DOES

According to a press release, Provider Connect Australia maintains the accuracy of healthcare service practitioner contact details. It can also automatically send new details to nominated hospitals, pathology radiology services, public service directories, secure messaging providers others.

Previously, health organisations were required to fill out between 10 20 paper or online forms to notify other providers about the changes in their services or practitioner information. The ADHA said Provider Connect Australia eliminates that “substantial” red-tape burden.

Formerly called Service Registration Assistant, Provider Connect Australia was first tried out in Northern New South Wales last year, where it was found that 99% of participating practitioner records held in the health district’s address book were “out of date”.

WHY IT MATTERS

ADHA CEO Amanda Cattermole said the platform will enable “greater” interoperability the adoption of secure messaging across the healthcare system. She mentioned that secure messaging is a key strategic priority under Australia’s National Digital Health Strategy. The new initiative will help providers easily locate each other to “securely” share patient information.

The agency stressed that “accurate reliable” information about healthcare services is a “key foundation to support a digitally connected healthcare system”. As it eliminates the administrative burden of manually filling out forms to update information, it prevents inaccurate out-of-date information to find its way across the system, affecting efficiency quality of care.

The platform is also expected to bring benefits to patient care as having the most up-to-date information is “essential” for sending hospital discharge summaries, like treatment plans progress notes, to the right person “as quickly as possible”.

“The objective is to improve the efficiency of administrative processes for publishers subscribers managing their data help provide prompt, safe seamless patient care across settings providers,” Cattermole said.

The ADHA projects Provider Connect Australia to deliver over AU$30 million ($22.8 million) in yearly economic benefits by 2025.

ON THE RECORD

“Provider Connect Australia will deliver efficiencies for practice support staff who will only have to update any changes in practice information once will increase confidence at the point of care that all of the incoming information about patients will be there, that outgoing address books are complete up-to-date,” said ADHA Chief Clinical Adviser Dr Steve Hambleton.

“By providing this national service, the Agency can improve the quality reliability of healthcare service details in directories other services, including Medicare, significantly reduce the administrative burden on healthcare organisations,” Cattermole said.



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Hospital for Special Surgery accelerates speed to care for vulnerable patients


At New York City’s Hospital for Special Surgery, the process for reporting critical lab results was a prime candidate for modernization.

THE PROBLEM

A typical workflow involved a message from a lab tech to a provider requesting a return call, a subsequent phone conversation where the tech asked the provider to check the EHR for a critical result, an EHR login from the provider to inspect the result. The potential for delays or extended rounds of phone tag was simply too high.

When a critical lab result is returned, it frequently means that action or intervention from a provider must take place as quickly as possible to prevent patient harm. In this instance a manual outreach process puts a bit of an onerous burden on the shoulders of lab techs. They have to try to contact a provider continually, it might take multiple attempts to reach one.

“Manual documentation of communication efforts presented its own set of challenges, making it harder to track turnaround times for compliance purposes,” said Robyn Townsend, assistant director of clinical applications at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

“HSS was always in line with documentation requirements, but the manual nature of this process made it more of a burden than it should’ve been.”

PROPOSAL

PerfectServe, a secure clinical communication collaboration platform, was already widely deployed at HSS before this particular integration was launched, with 3,500 users utilizing the application to enable real-time, interdisciplinary communication among members of the extended care team. 

PerfectServe is available on mobile devices desktops, it also has been embedded directly within the Epic EHR environment for greater ease of use.

“There’s a tremendous amount of complexity built into this integration, but for the end user it’s still quite simple to use.”

Robyn Townsend, Hospital for Special Surgery

“With a laboratory information system in place a clinical communication platform deployed heavily used across the enterprise, HSS already had the pieces in place to modernize this process. But it wasn’t until the two were tightly integrated that we were able to dramatically cut down the time required to close the loop on critical lab results,” Townsend explained. “HSS worked closely with the PerfectServe team over a number of months to scope, design implement this project.

“The new system takes what used to be a manual workflow automates it almost completely, using the platform’s intelligent routing capability to deliver lab results to the right person at the right time,” she continued. “As soon as a critical lab result is identified in the LIS, an interface automatically sends the flagged value to PerfectServe, which assembles delivers the alert.”

The communications platform evaluates numerous variables – time of day, on-call schedules, patient service line, level of urgency others – to deliver the result to an appropriate provider.

“Many hospitals have to manage sizable still growing technology stacks, so finding ways to enhance interoperability between important systems means you’re getting more value for your investments while simultaneously improving hospital operations,” Townsend said. 

“The communications platform’s proposal was appealing in part because HSS could add new functionality without deploying new software or adding a new vendor to the mix.”

MEETING THE CHALLENGE

The primary users of this integration are laboratory personnel providers. HSS elected to send critical alerts to a blend of physicians mid-level practitioners (PAs), but they could, for example, also choose to deliver alerts to a patient’s nurse if that’s the preferred operational workflow.

“This demonstrates one of the main benefits of tapping PerfectServe for this project: the amount of available customization,” Townsend said. “Before implementation, the project team was able to envision account for almost any scenario, resulting in a nuanced but seamless system that is easy for end users to engage with understand.

“There’s a tremendous amount of complexity built into this integration, but for the end user it’s still quite simple to use,” she continued. “Once the alert is sent, the platform tracks when the recipient receives, reads selects ‘Accept’ or ‘Decline’ on the message. Accepting closes the loop, declining sends a message back to the lab for follow-up. The lab is immediately notified if a result is declined.”

Importantly, this workflow also needed built-in fail-safes to make sure results never fall through the cracks. If the provider who receives the results doesn’t respond within five minutes, the message is automatically escalated to the next provider in line. If for some reason no provider accepts responsibility, lab techs pathologists are automatically engaged to serve as final safeguards.

“Two real-time, auto-refreshing tracking monitors also were installed in the lab at HSS to display the status of all critical lab results,” Townsend noted. “This means lab personnel can take a few seconds to glance up check the progress of any critical lab result take action if something seems off.”

RESULTS

HSS’s new automated critical result reporting process has yielded impressive success metrics while reducing workload for staff, eliminating inconsistencies related to reaction times, accelerating speed to care for vulnerable patients, Townsend reported. It’s also served as a blueprint for other projects during the COVID-19 era, she added.

“Since the integration went live in July 2019, roughly 2,700 chemistry results 850 hematology results have been delivered,” she said. “Last year, HSS dug a bit deeper into about 1,100 of these results noted an average 42% improvement in acknowledgement times.”

One especially noteworthy stat is turnaround times – the time from when the result is verified in Epic to when the provider acknowledges it in the communications platform – which have been measured to be as fast as seven seconds. That’s about the same amount of time it takes a lab tech just to dial a provider’s number.

“Like many other hospitals in New York City, HSS also was heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Townsend noted. “As the specialty facility began opening back up for surgeries, the PerfectServe integration created for delivering critical lab results paid dividends in an unexpected way.

“As HSS started accepting patients for surgeries again, they needed a way to get their COVID test results to providers in an efficient way,” she continued. “They realized that the blueprint for this kind of process had already been created with the critical labs project, so they had all positive negative COVID test results delivered via the clinical communication platform.”

ADVICE FOR OTHERS

Aside from finding a willing technology partner, there were three elements that contributed most to the success of this integration, Townsend said.

“First foremost, HSS had to guarantee that alerts were being delivered to the right care team member,” she explained. 

“For example, depending on routing logic, a critical potassium alert will always go to the PA and/or the physician, while critical microbiology results are shared with the infection control team as FYIs. You need a communication platform that allows custom alert paths for different clinical findings so care team members only receive notifications relevant to their roles.”

Ensuring that physicians care team members could easily accept or decline results was another key element, she said. The new process saw greater adoption because all recipients could easily respond to alerts by tapping a button to acknowledge, accept or decline the message. This was all happening on a platform they already knew how to use, she added.

“Built-in escalation protocols that transmit critical results to the next-level provider if a response is not received within a certain time frame also have been critical for the project’s overall success,” she concluded. 

“If a physician or care team member is unavailable or inaccessible, all messages should automatically be escalated to someone who can take action to guarantee a timely response. In many cases, there’s very little room for errors or delays.”

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.





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Eye clinic cyberattack may have exposed info from 500K patients

A cybersecurity incident at an Iowa group eye clinic could have exposed the personal information of nearly 500,000 current former patients.  

According to a press release this week, back in February Wolfe Eye Clinic was the target of a deliberate cyberattack.  

Because of the complexity scale of the incident, said the company, the full scope of potentially affected data was not realized until May 28.  

“We take our responsibility to protect personal information in our control very seriously apologize for any concern or inconvenience this may cause,” said Luke Bland, chief financial officer at Wolfe Eye Clinic, in a statement.  

“We continue to closely monitor the situation are committed to notifying past present patients about what happened what they can do to protect their information,” said Bland.  

WHY IT MATTERS

Wolfe Eye Clinic runs 11 main clinics across the state, in addition to nine family vision centers, a surgical center more than 25 outreach locations.   

According to the company, on February 8 an unauthorized third party tried to gain access to the company’s computer network then blocked access to some systems information.  

After detecting the incident, said the organization, Wolfe Eye Clinic “responded immediately,” contracting the assistance of independent IT specialists forensic investigators to investigate.

The hackers demanded a ransom, according to the organization, which was not paid. Although it’s not clear how long the hackers had access to the information, the clinic said the full breadth of possibly exposed data was not realized until May 28. The investigation concluded on June 8.  

This week, Wolfe began notifying the approximately 500,000 current former patients that their personal information may have been inappropriately accessed.  

For some, that data may include their name, mailing address, date of birth Social Security number; for others, it may also include protected medical health information, said the company.

Wolfe Eye Clinic said it is taking steps to prevent a similar event from reoccurring by implementing additional safeguards security measures. It is also offering identity monitoring at no cost for a year to affected individuals.

The company said that to date there have not been reports of identity theft, but that it is notifying all potentially affected individuals “out of an abundance of caution.”  

The news about the incident came on the heels of comments from U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Chris Wray to Senate appropriators about how to persuade ransomware attack victims to cooperate with law enforcement.   

“If we don’t solve the riddle of how to get the private sector promptly transparently working with us – more more companies, I should say, are doing that all the time – but if we don’t make that sort of the norm, we’re going to have a heck of a time winning this conflict,” Wray said, according to reports.  

THE LARGER TREND  

Unfortunately, the Wolfe Eye Clinic is far from alone in dealing with cybersecurity incidents.   

A report this month from Moody’s Investors Service found that cyber risk will likely remain high for the healthcare sector, leading to the potential for lost revenue, increased expenses elevated scrutiny.  

But the federal government is flexing its enforcement muscles – or preparing to, anyway.

Earlier this month, Reuters reported that the U.S. Department of Justice would elevate ransomware investigations to a priority level similar to that of terrorism.   

The Biden administration said it could even consider military action in response to cyber threats enabled by foreign nation-states.   

ON THE RECORD  

“Unfortunately, these types of cyber incidents have become all-too-common for health care providers of all sizes nationwide,” said Wolfe clinic’s Blin a statement. “We recognize the significance of this incident moved quickly to address it once we became aware of its occurrence.”  

 

Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Email: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.





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