An ambitious overhaul of the Federal Government’s My Aged Care is poised to kick off with the establishment of an advisory group to guide the platform’s integration with clinical systems, but linkage with My Health Record remains off the table in the initial revamp.

At the Medical Software Industry Association’s Stakeholder Forum in Sydney yesterday, Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt said in a video address that the Department of Health will work closely with the sector to implement projects including a referral system for health professionals.

“This project will allow doctors and specialists to send referrals to My Aged Care directly from their clinical information systems and to track the progress of their clients through My Aged Care,” Wyatt said.

This will greatly enhance the user experience for health professionals and streamline overall client interaction with My Aged Care.”

The overhaul will also include a new website, an enhanced service finder, development of a client journey dashboard and improved self-service capabilities.

Targeted consultations will be held to draw on the expertise in the sector. Nominations for an advisory group of experts will open next week.

Industry advice is being sought on interoperability and the implementation of the My Aged Care API, secure two-way messaging, seamless integration with clinical workflow, built-in decision support, and integration into other health and aged care sector systems.

The government’s consensual approach to the program of tech works could lead to “co-design in action”, MSIA President Emma Hossack said.

“Wyatt, like [Health Minister Greg] Hunt, gets the value of digital health. He has considered advice from the aged care sector and the health software industry and taken a refreshing approach. Instead of releasing a cut and paste tender for a monolithic centralised system, he supports a consensual approach,” Hossack said.

“Possibilities include a modular decentralised system. This will enable flexibility and avoid the ‘one size fits all’ architecture. Having a Minister who genuinely cares and wants change means we are likely to see co-design in action.”

The 12-month redevelopment process, which is being funded with a $61.7 million federal investment, will see the updates to the much-maligned My Aged Care rolled out within the tight time-frame.

Integrating with GP systems is a top priority, with connection to the Australian Digital Health Agency’s My Health Record part of the longer-term vision.

Wyatt said almost $9 million is also being contributed to develop an aged care provider online comparison system to increase transparency, improve compliance and allow older Australians and their families to make informed choices.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government this week announced a new Australian Dementia Network to turbocharge the quest for cures, prevention and better management of the heartbreaking condition, with technology key to the project.

The ADNeT initiative will establish a national network of memory clinics to speed up assessment of cognitive disorders and improve access to advanced imaging, genetics and lifestyle data, with the government investing $18 million and universities, philanthropists, industry, research centres and state governments contributing a further $20 million.

Dementia is the biggest killer of Australian women and the second most common cause of death among the overall population, claiming more than 13,000 lives each year.

A registry of clinical trial volunteers and access to state of the art diagnostic support and disease trajectory tracking will also boost research efforts.

ADNeT is way for sufferers to contribute to knowledge of the condition, according to John Quinn, who is living with dementia.

“In the past two years, I have not only participated in some studies but I am also on numerous research committees,” Quinn said.

“I am proud that I can contribute to this progress towards better care now and a future cure. I believe this is a major shift forward for dementia research and for all people impacted by dementia.”

Australian and international data sharing, combined with unprecedented research access to global data and collaboration will contribute to the charting of dementia causes, progression, risks and new treatments.

Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe welcomed what had been a long-held vision.

“For researchers, ADNet is about harnessing the power of ‘big data’ to ensure that we have a far more comprehensive and integrated picture of clinical research that will provide a more comprehensive picture of the characteristics of dementia,” she said.

“It will enable that picture to be built across a wide range of datasets and for researchers to more effectively identify cohorts of people for future studies.”

ADNet will drive research and deliver insights through five core teams, including one focussed on technology.

An estimated 425,000 Australians are living with dementia, with the number expected to hit more than one million by 2050 without new discoveries.

ADNeT is the largest single project funded to date through the government’s $200 million, five-year Boosting Dementia Research Initiative, launched in 2014 by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

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