NT pharmacists leading the way in My Health Record uptake

pharmacist using a computer

Community pharmacists in the Northern Territory are well-prepared for the national My Health Record (MHR) rollout, with nearly 70% of pharmacies either registered or awaiting registration processing.

Sam Keitaanpaa, Clinical Service Specialist at Country Wellness Group in Darwin, said the support of the local Primary Health Network (PHN) has driven the uptake in registrations, despite the challenge in the large area covered and remoteness of locations.

‘As the Northern Territory Pharmacist Digital Health Leader, I have worked closely with the NT PHN steering committee on strategies to support pharmacies in the registration process as the shortage of pharmacies and high number of single pharmacy sites meant that time was a major barrier to undertaking the registration process,’ he told Australian Pharmacist.

‘The other challenge we are facing is how the MHR interacts with existing digital health architecture that has been in place in the Northern Territory, especially around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.’

‘Matching Medicare details with IHIs [individual health identifiers] will be an ongoing issue due in part to the cultural practices around the use of names, a similar issue seen in other groups in the multicultural Northern Territory, like our Vietnamese community.’

The public information phase of the MHR is in full swing, with patient information toolkits available from community pharmacists, general practices, Aboriginal health services, post offices, and private and public hospitals. The patient opt-out period has also opened, running 16 July to 15 October.

For community pharmacies across Australia, this means the period of patient education has begun. As of 24 June, 5.89 million Australian had already registered for a My Health Record, with 20.7 million prescription and dispense records uploaded.¹

‘The next stage is to undertake another round of pharmacist awareness sessions in conjunction with the PHN to educate pharmacists around opt-out information to consumers, implementing the MHR into practice and provide individual support to those pharmacies still undertaking registration or who need tailored information for their communities,’ Mr Keitaanpaa said.

PSA national president Dr Shane Jackson said of the MHR, ‘pharmacists now will be able to more actively support patients with their medication management needs, especially those with complex chronic disease. These patients often take multiple medications and a connected My Health Record system will ensure health professionals have the information they need at the point of care to support patients with their healthcare.’

Behind the scenes, a testing and planning phase has begun to take place across Australia, with 15 trials including more than 290 community pharmacies and 5,000 patients. Using live MHR data from consenting patients, trials of new approaches in the continuity of care from hospital discharge to community pharmacy will be carried out by co-operatives between PHNs, health providers, research institutes and pharmacy groups.

PSA is working with partners on a program to increase in the engagement of patients after hospital discharge with their community pharmacists, and to optimise the use of medicines information from the discharging hospital using MHR throughout Victoria’s Eastern Health PHN. It will be evaluated through a randomised controlled trial and will include partners Monash University, Deakin University and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

Other digital health test bed projects include more effective medication management at the point of admission and discharge from hospitals, and secure messaging systems between hospital and primary care providers.

Explore how MHR will work for pharmacists through our special feature, Unlocking My Health Record. The latest in MHR developments and training will be covered at PSA18, and more resources are available at PSA’s Digital Health Hub.

1 The Hon Greg Hunt, Minister for Health. Australian Government Department of Health. 3 July 2018. At:   http://www.health.gov.au/internet/ministers/publishing.nsf/Content/76C48D7691004E55CA2582BF000F733C/$File/GH079.pdf