The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has partnered with the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine to provide more support for frontline emergency care staff through the use of patients' My Health Record.

The suite of clinical tools and resources includes include a guide for emergency department clinicians with practical information on accessing up-to-date My Health Record data for people requiring emergency care.

The guide explains the ins and outs of My Health Record to ED clinicians and where it can fit into their current practice, and describes the types of clinical documents that may be included in a patient's My Health Record and the origin of that information.

"The biggest challenge was ensuring the guide was relevant to all state and territory health systems," Dr Andrew Hugman, emergency physician and Fellow of ACEM, the Commission’s Clinical Lead on the project told Healthcare IT News. "An extensive consultation process was undertaken with peak bodies, professional colleges, state and territory eHealth representatives and Fellows of ACEM to develop the guide."

Hugman noted a key driver for this project was making sure the guide was written by clinicians, for clinicians, with a focus on protecting vulnerable patient groups and legislative requirements that ED clinicians need to be aware of.

"Hospital doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and allied health professionals shaped the guide, ensuring it was practical and relevant to support frontline clinicians using the My Health Record system," he said.

The suite will help support ED staff, who can use the system to inform clinical decision-making on the frontline of emergency care, and provide  hospital clinicians with access to patient information out-of-hours and from outside their local hospital network.

Hugman noted there are more than 8 million presentations to Australian public EDs each year, and ED clinicians often require information from a number of their patient's healthcare providers in order to provide the best possible care.

"This may include shared health summaries from the patient's GP, discharge summaries from public and private hospitals, medication information from local community pharmacies, and pathology and diagnostic imaging investigation results," he said.

The rapidly expanding My Health Record system – more than 22 million Australians now have a My Health Record--already contains more than 3.4 million shared health summaries, 37 million prescriptions and 22 million pathology reports.

The Commission has already implemented a "My Health Record in ED" roadshow across Australia, which consists of awareness sessions-- more than 1,300 ED staff from large tertiary referral facilities to small remote hospitals have already attended one of the sessions, and more are planned following the release of the guide.

"As the My Health Record system evolves, increasing numbers of healthcare providers will continue to connect to the system," Hugman said. "This will support the availability of valuable clinical information for both consumers and their healthcare provider."

In October, the Australian Digital Health Agency released an upgrade to the electronic health record platform My Health Record, giving healthcare professionals online access to a patient's pathology and diagnostic imaging reports.

Tests and reports may include blood tests, urine tests and biopsies, X-rays, CT scans and ultrasounds. Once uploaded, these tests and reports are available to all members of the patient's health care team.

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