Pulse+IT Magazine - August 2014

Page 36





DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION OF GENERAL PRACTICE Many general practitioners are still reluctant to fully embrace digital technologies in their day-to-day work, often as a result of a lack of trust in the effectiveness of IT in improving patient care. However, the RACGP is working to improve uptake of these technologies by highlighting the benefits of IT in patient care delivery.

DR NATHAN PINSKIER MBBS, FRAGCP, Dip Prac Man, FAAPM, FAAQHC Chair, RACGP National Standing Committee – Health Information Systems nathan@pinskier.com

New technologies are pivotal to the continuation of improved healthcare for all Australians. Under the current Australian healthcare system, most general practices operate as private businesses. GPs who choose to establish their own private practice recognise they often do not possess the appropriate business and technology skills to successfully manage a small business, with little education on business development and information technology provided at medical school. In the age of a rapidly emerging digital economy, it is vital that practice principals and GPs have the right tools and resources to embrace new technologies within their practice.

About the author Dr Nathan Pinskier is a general practitioner based in Melbourne and the chair of the RACGP National Standing Committee on Health Information Systems. He is a former clinical lead for NEHTA and has a long interest in using IT to improve clinical care.

The digital revolution is transforming workplaces within the healthcare sector. In general practice, the use of practice management and clinical desktop systems, the internet, eHealth and mHealth technologies have consequently increased the use of PCs, laptops, remote access devices such as smartphones and tablet devices and increased the demand for wireless (Wi-Fi) connections, resulting in widespread uptake of broadband internet and secure external data transfer. Patient privacy, information security and clinical safety are overriding imperatives with the introduction of many new eHealth

initiatives and the implementation of the national eHealth record system. Core to digital technologies is the security, storage and retrievability of business and clinical information. Patient privacy and information security must be considered during the delivery of evidence-based care by informed and educated clinicians and the sharing of critical business and clinical information. General practices often lack the specialist knowledge to deal with both internal and online risks.

Overcoming mistrust Barriers to general practice uptake of technology are traditionally the result of mistrust of and a lack of interest in technology, and the disbelief that technology could ‘improve’ the management of health information and lead to better health outcomes. Additional barriers also include the high cost of investment in expensive technologies, training, and support. Computers and information systems are now an essential part of everyday general practice, however technology as an ongoing business cost is often not strategically considered. There are few benchmarks that general practices can use to calculate or establish the amount of money that should be invested in IT and many general

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