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Healthcare system showing improved secure transfer of patient information

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Australia has a world class health system, and the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how important technology is to allow healthcare providers to communicate with each other securely and immediately.

Out of date contact details that healthcare providers have about healthcare services and other practitioners can mean that patients’ medical documents and information is not able to be sent from one healthcare provider to another. In a world where consumers can no longer be a conduit for delivering a referral letter or test result to another provider, and where our postal services are over capacity, an up to date electronic registry is more important than ever.

The Australian Digital Health Agency has built a Service Registration Assistant (SRA) to solve this problem. The SRA keeps healthcare service and practitioner information up to date with changes to contact details available immediately to authorised users.

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Healthcare organisations can update their details in the SRA once, and this will automatically send these new details to all organisations they have authorised to receive their information. This might include hospitals, pathology and radiology services, public service directories, secure messaging providers and more. The SRA avoids the need for an organisation to update their information in multiple places and eliminates the need for hundreds of other directories around the country to manually keep their directories up to date.

Dr Steve Hambleton, a General Practitioner and Agency Clinical Reference Lead, noted that “not only will this innovation bring about efficiencies for practice support staff who will only have to update changes in practice information once, it will increase confidence at the point of care that all of the incoming information about our patients will be there, and that our outgoing address book is complete and up to date”.

Initial results from a trial of the SRA in Northern NSW has shown significant improvements in communications between healthcare providers. To date, of 187 practitioners who participated in the trial and shared their details with the Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD), 186 had to change or update their details during the trial period.

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