Providers of patient management systems in Australia are in a race to sign up GPs to cloud-based platforms, with leading medical software provider MedicalDirector leveraging its market reach to gain the inside track.

With its server-based systems in 4800 practices and servicing close to 17000 GPs, the company launched its Helix cloud system in May, with 200 doctors so far taking up the technology.

It’s a considerable risk and substantial investment for a company that began in 1997 with a DOS-based quick script program and was last year sold by Primary Health Care to private equity group Affinity for $155 million.

As part of its future-proofing digital development, MedicalDirector took two and a half years to build Helix, with up to 130 people working on the platform at its peak.

“So it’s a serious investment for our customers to help them change and transform to the new world,” Medical Director CEO Matt Bardsley told Healthcare IT News Australia.

The outcome was a mobile device compatible, My Health Record-integrated system with a new clinical interface that allows practices to eliminate servers under desks and step forward into the digital age.

“What we’ve done is, we’ve taken the 20 years of domain knowledge but reimagined it into the current world.”

Helix was built using the insight MedicalDirector gained from the 1.1 billion patient consultations processed on its platform over two decades, together with a GP consultative process.

Almost 700 doctors were surveyed to gauge their interest in cloud systems, and GPs, practice managers, and others industry experts participated in the co-design. Now that Helix is launched, feedback on usability is tracked, as is telemetry data that allows MedicalDirector to analyse how the system is being used.

Industry early adopters were the first to sign up.

“We have close to 200-plus doctors now in some form of onboarding on to the platform. Those guys get it. They understand that, basically, you’d rather have your money in a bank-grade facility, rather than under your mattress at home.”

Later this year, Primary Healthcare will roll Helix out in its practices, reaching another 1200 doctors.

“So very quickly, we’re going to go from that 200 to thousands, and that’s all going to happen over the next few months, which is very exciting,” Bardsley said.

Other companies competing for the cloud market include MediRecords and Best Practice’s yet to be released Titanium.

MedicalDirector has partnered with Microsoft as its cloud provider, ensuring data is encrypted for security.

“The key thing about it is to make sure that where you put your data is in the most safe, secure place possible.”

Shifting to cloud has allowed the patient management system to be transformed – “It looks different, it feels different, it is different” – and new functions are designed to allow GPs to save time and view patient information from anywhere on their devices.

“This is what cloud does. This unshackles consultation and enables new ways in which doctors can transact and interact with patients. Working with the doctors, understanding what their key workflows are through the day, we can make simple things very, very easy,” Bardsley said.




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