Aged care providers have a key role to play in helping to maintain accurate My Health Records but must be better supported to do so, say leaders in aged care IT.

Additional funding announced in the 2017 Budget for the transition to an opt-out rather than opt-in approach of electronic My Health Records (MHR) will see a full rollout to all Australians over the next two years.

The impact of this on aged care providers will be significant if care providers are expected to keep residents’ and clients’ records up to date.

While GPs will continue to have ultimate responsibility for MHRs, Chair of the ITAC organising committee, Rod Young, says this is an opportunity for providers to demonstrate the contribution of social care documentation in overall improved health outcomes.

“The move to an opt out approach for My Health Record is a fantastic opportunity for aged care documentation to be brought into the loop,” Mr Young said.

“At the moment there is very limited integration of aged care documentation, particularly in the community setting, and not much of a direct connection between what care service providers have in their records and what health providers have in their records.”

“Combining health information with social care information could drastically improve health and social outcomes for people if it is done properly,” he said.

Under the current design of My Health Record only registered healthcare providers who have an HPI-I and are authorised by a registered healthcare provider organisation can access the My Health Record system on someone’s behalf.

While Registered Nurses, medical practitioners and Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander health practitioners can be nominated healthcare providers, giving them the ability to view, author and upload a shared health summary to a patient’s My Health Record, unless they are given full access they will not be able to see all events in a person’s record.

Mr Young says this undermines the importance of social care and the valuable role of personal carers who see clients far more frequently than healthcare providers.

It also increases the likelihood of relevant information not being recorded.

“If someone is limited by their mobility and is only be seen by a carer doing home visits, it is important their provider is involved in maintaining their health record if it is to truly be a comprehensive document for all health-related information.”

“Home care providers are the ones seeing clients in their typical environment and should be intimately involved in the care planning and processes.”

“There are many people who don’t want their doctor to know they have declined a bit more or they’re struggling and put on a brave face for a15 minute consultation.”

“Carers who visit people at home have a far better idea of their capabilities, family, support and general well being than a health professional can during a consultation.”

“The social care system should not be relegated to second place behind the health system.

The changes also mean that organisations using systems that don’t integrate with My Health Record may see an impact on staff having to update clinical records twice, or be forced to purchase new software.

Meanwhile, Telstra Health has announced it is developing a new app called Health Now that will become a one-stop-shop for health information, appointments and records, connecting different parts of the health sector.

Telstra’s Health’s Rowan Wilkie said its goal is to give people access to their health records at their fingertips, as well as manage their health appointments, keep track of prescriptions and also receive tailored preventative health messages.

“The app will utilise our health technology solutions. For example, through existing Telstra Health services, we will work towards consumers gaining access to diagnostic images delivered via our Medinexus service and online hospital check-ins using our Queue Manager system,” Mr Wilkie said in a statement on Telstra Health’s website.

“We are looking to integrate more solutions and functionality based on healthcare provider and patient feedback.”

“We are also one of the only organisations so far to be granted authorisation to integrate the Government’s My Health Record into the app.”

“This means that, subject to a range of stringent security, privacy and technology requirements set by the Government, people will be able to access their My Health Record through the app.”

“This does not mean though that Telstra or any third party will gain access to this information – only the app user can see the data.”

The app is currently being trialled ahead of a public launch later this year.

Other aged care software products on the market that are My Health Record enabled include AutumnCare Connect and Platinum 5.