some normality,” Mr Ramanathan says. “We don’t really need people to tell us what to do because we pretty much know how to look after older people, and to be very honest the people who we look after actually know what they want. “That may come as a surprise to a whole lot of people, but our clients know what they want and we want to work with them. What this vision is all about is the industry doing something in terms of leadership. What we’re saying is this is our canvas, it is not prescriptive about what should happen, but that eventually we’d like to liberate the consumer to become a participant in their care, not just be recipients of care. They take ownership of themselves and we will then help and enable them.” Mr Ramanathan says there are three audiences that ACIITC and the peak bodies are targeting with the vision: the first two being the government, which funds the industry, and the bureaucracy, which administers it. The third audience is the providers themselves, he says. “Some of them need to look at ICT and how it can help address their workforce issues, and their need to be sustainable and viable. They should look at ICT as a way to make themselves viable so they can provide care the way our clients want it.” However, one of the often forgotten groups when looking at ICT in aged care is the nurses and carers themselves. Industry figures show that IT literacy among care staff is less than 50 per cent. Nurses already have heavy workloads, and require IT solutions that work with them rather than against them, Mr Ramanathan says. “This is a nurse-dominated environment. Basically, the ICT vision talks about very simple things before talking about electronic medication management and all of more complex stuff, which we are more
“Eventually we’d like to liberate the consumer to become a participant in their care, not just be recipients of care.” Suri Ramanathan
than competent to do anyway. You have to look at it in context. These nurses, who work so hard, for them to have confusing systems is the last thing you’d want.”
Aged care and eHealth
Mr Ramanathan says once discharge summaries are seamlessly integrated with aged care clinical management software, “our people will move. But they need a clear signal that there’s financial support for the change to take place. That’s the missing link.”
The aged care sector is also calling for financial assistance to help it roll out the PCEHR and other eHealth initiatives. While the initial focus of the previous government was getting primary care PCEHR-ready and there has been some work done on hooking up acute care, aged care – where the concept of a PCEHR is very well supported – seems to have missed out.
HI Service integration, CDA document uploads and downloads and shared health summaries are all working well in aged care, and there now needs to be a focus on eReferrals, discharge summaries, integration with the National Prescription and Dispense Repository (NPDR) and secure messaging.
Mr Ramanathan says eHealth measures such as electronic discharge summaries would be a boost to wider uptake of IT in the aged care sector, but financial support was also needed.
Mr Ramanathan estimates that the foundational work will take another year to finish, but the industry’s successful integration with the PCEHR system will still be a five- to 10-year process.
“For a pharmacist to push the enter button at the pharmacy, they receive a PBS dispense fee,” he says. “In terms of the GPs, they have come up with two ePIPs to ensure the GPs come on board with PCEHR and the elements of eHealth.
The council believes that organisations need to act now to ensure their software providers sense a market stimulus to move on making their products PCEHRready and that the solutions they delivered are based on NEHTA standards, but Mr Ramanathan acknowledges that without an economic stimulus for change, industry lacks real impetus to pursue it.
“[But] we are much larger than both combined. Aged care is one of the largest industries in the country. We have 300,000 FTE employees. Facilities operate on a paper-thin margin, so for them to adopt change, they need a little bit of a hand, for the same reasons that exist for pharmacies and GPs.”
“The message to providers is that PCEHR is a vital tool to get information to mitigate risk in aged care, but we are looking for that moment when there is policy support to adopt it.”
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