A nationwide survey of residential aged care staff has found almost one in ten works in a facility reliant on paper records for care management, while “critical digital systems” are yet to be widely implemented in a sector in “dire need of disruption”.
Conducted by the Aged Care Technology Consortium, the survey highlighted frustration at staff shortages, poor shift handovers including for “deteriorating” residents, time consuming compliance reporting, and digital systems that don’t integrate.
One respondent said: “No [digital] system talks to each other – even from the same providers! Whether it’s clinical care systems, finance systems, incident management systems, HR systems – nothing talks to each other.”
Another commented: “Paper based systems are not acceptable in this day and age.”
The Consortium’s founding companies – MEDrefer, Webstercare, Extensia, Foxo, Visionflex and Humanetix – have joined together to integrate their technologies to help prevent unnecessary transfers to hospital emergency departments, and provide early identification of health needs, improved services in rural and remote areas, more staff time for patient care, better engagement with families, and health record sharing.
“Aged care providers can find it confusing to choose digital systems, and often their systems don’t connect or share information. We have taken some of the frustration out of the digital transition process because, ultimately, aged care needs to modernise. Our older Australians deserve better,” MEDrefer founder and CEO Brian Sullivan said.
MEDrefer is a member of the Aged Care Technology Consortium – a collaboration of digital health companies that have come together to connect their systems and provide solutions for residential and in-home aged care providers.
The Consortium recently undertook a nationwide survey of residential aged care providers and found a concerning lack of critical digital system implementations.
The survey conducted in June gathered responses mostly from facility managers (37%), followed by nursing directors (20%), CEOs (13%) and care managers (7%).
It found that most respondents (53%) work in a facility with a digital medication management system, while 29% said they have implemented a pain management platform.
About 9% of respondents reported being reliant on paper records for care management; 8% said their workers have access to a digital incident management system; and only 3% said their facility has implemented a visitor management platform.
The survey also revealed the respondents’s major workplace challenges include documentation completeness (29%), incident management (19%), shift handover and ease of administration (18%), monitoring care quality and managing escalations (16%), and compliance and auditing activities (15%).
In Pulse+IT, MEDrefer founder and CEO Brian Sullivan says aged care providers can find it confusing when it comes to choosing digital systems, and often their systems don’t connect or share information.
That’s why MEDrefer has joined with a suite of proven innovators to connect our systems and provide integrated technologies for referrals, communications, workflow and administration, telehealth and remote monitoring, medication management and health information sharing.
“We have taken some of the frustration out of the digital transition process because, ultimately, aged care needs to modernise,” Brian says. “Our older Australians deserve better.”
Western Australia has completed a successful pilot of its GP Urgent Care Clinic Network, with MEDrefer contributing its digital referrals capability to the project providing patients with rapid access to non-life threatening emergency care.
As part of the state’s effort to lower the growing pressure on hospitals, the initiative has provided a vital alternative for patients who would otherwise have attended WA emergency departments.
Since its implementation as part of the pilot in May 2020, MEDrefer has been used across 150 general practices in the state, allowing urgent care clinics to report back about patients’ conditions to their usual GPs.
“The urgent care clinics have been enthusiastic in their take-up of technology that transforms the way GPs communicate,” MEDrefer founder and CEO Brian Sullivan said.
“Not only does our digital platform enable easy access, it also allows GPs to receive reports about their patients, ensuring ongoing visibility of their care needs. It eliminates the need for paper, saves time for clinicians and admin staff, and lowers the risk of errors caused by transcribing patient details. No longer should GPs operate in entirely unconnected silos when information can easily be shared electronically regardless of the practice management software they use.”
Usually, MEDrefer enables referrals from GPs to specialists and hospitals. This was an adaptation of the system.
According to the state’s Department of Health, almost one-fifth of attendances to WA emergency departments in 2017-18 could have been treated by GPs.
Earlier this month, the ABC reported Western Australia recorded the highest total for ambulance ramping for the month of May in history. St John Ambulance figures showed paramedics spent a total of 5,252.6 hours ramped outside hospitals that were unable to take in additional patients.
Joondalup Health Campus left paramedics waiting the longest, followed by Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.
“In the last two years there have been increased reports of ambulance ramping outside hospitals, people needing to be driven to the ED as there are no available ambulances, and people dying waiting for an ambulance,” according to the AMA.
“The AMA’s Ambulance Ramping Report Card shows that states and territories are falling short of their performance targets, and longitudinal data demonstrates that the time it takes to transfer a patient from the ambulance to the care of the hospital emergency department has been overall increasing year on year. This is a clear indication that our hospitals are in crisis.”
In May, the Western Sydney Care Collective – a collaboration between Western Sydney Local Health District and WentWest, the Western Sydney Primary Health Network – announced $10.9 million in funding from the NSW Government would be used to establish up to 12 urgent care centres in Western Sydney in an effort to integrate primary and hospital care and lower pressure on the area’s emergency departments.
This month, National Cabinet agreed to “identify practical improvements to the health system and specifically the connections between GPs and hospitals”.
The Commonwealth also said it would work with states and territories “to determine the final locations for Medicare Urgent Care Clinics”. Before the election, Labor pledged $135 million to trial 50 Medicare Urgent Care Clinics based in general practices and community health centres, which are slated to open in July 2023.
The crisis is being exacerbated by people remaining in hospital beds who could be released, such as those waiting for home care or NDIS packages.
Growing pressures on the hospital system mean acute care clinics provide important services, including by providing treatment to older people in the community.
In WA, the GP Urgent Care Clinic Network pilot – delivered by the state’s Department of Health in partnership with the WA Primary Health Alliance – has enhanced the capacity of general practices to care for patients with urgent but non-life-threatening conditions, including:
Skin and soft tissue infections and symptoms, such as cuts and lacerations, mild burns and rashes, bites and insect stings
Musculoskeletal injuries such as minor fractures, sports injuries and minor neck and back pain
Other potentially urgent medical symptoms such as urinary tract infections and wound infections and abdominal pain.
Supported by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners WA Faculty and the Australian Medical Association (WA), the network was designed to ensure people could receive the right care in the right place – in the community.
MEDrefer provides a seamless nationwide directory of specialists and an eReferral delivery system that is safely stored in the cloud and integrated into practice management software.
The upcoming release of the MEDrefer eReferral platform supports new Australian industry standards for secure messaging, developed by the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) in collaboration with healthcare software vendors like ourselves, furthering our commitment to deliver the highest quality referrals via the most secure channel available.
In addition to our market leading eReferral search engine and directory, MEDrefer now integrates with Australian provider directories compliant with the Australian Profile for Provider Directory Services (PD 2 on FHIR R4) such as those maintained by secure messaging vendors. This integration allows MEDrefer users to easily search for and refer to Australian providers who use secure messaging services which implement this new standard, such as Medical-Objects, Argus and HealthLink, in addition to those already using MEDrefer to receive referrals.
Our support of the new secure messaging standard builds on MEDrefer’s long established “guaranteed delivery” framework. This ensures message delivery regardless of the technical capability of the receiving site, thereby maximising our reach to cover the broadest range of healthcare services. GPs and other referrers can be confident that the message will always get through to their chosen recipient in the quickest, most secure way possible, ensuring safe transfer of care for their patients.
Beyond message delivery, MEDrefer’s eForm based referral authoring mandates the minimum information required by recipient specialist services, auto-populated from the GP’s electronic patient record. Along with the referral letter, the structured form data can be delivered to the recipient site to support triage, decision support and to streamline patient registration by eliminating the need for manual transcription by admin staff.
When combined, the new messaging standard and our next generation referral forms deliver the highest quality referrals to the right recipient at the right time via the most secure channel available.
The new release (V9.0 and V1.8 of our Windows app, MEDrefer Manager) is scheduled to go live this Friday, October 2nd.
The healthcare industry is one of the last to step into the field of technology but it’s a step that many doctors will soon have to take to maintain their communication with colleagues and patients. It’s also important to be aware of how to manage brand reputation on the Internet.
So what does every medical practice need to succeed in the world where technology meets healthcare?
An email address
Surprisingly, a large number of practices don’t have email addresses. This can impact on their working relationship with other practices and also their patients. It can make it difficult to track online listings, such as on Google Places and receive important updates from medical organisations such as the AAPM, RACGP and AMA.
A good clinical software system
Keeping track of patient records on programs not designed for the purpose can create a bigger burden on reception staff and make tracking down information less time efficient and more complicated. A good clinical software program will help you maintain records, provide links to up to date medical information, let you backup your records securely and provide integrations with major medical resources and programs.
Electronic referral tracking
Many leading organisations are calling on medical professionals to flick the fax because of how insecure and illegible they often are – it’s very common for faxes to get lost or even get sent to the wrong fax number. GPs also have no way of knowing if a patient ever followed through on a referral after the patient leaves their practice. MEDrefer allows GPs and referring Specialists to track the entire referral process from the appointment time and date through to the final report and offers a range of other marketing, data storage and integration benefits to GPs, Specialists and Allied Health professionals.
With many patients now using a Google search as the first step in finding a practitioner, you need to make sure that you’re one of the first practices they set eyes on. You don’t need a fancy expensive website but at the very least, you need to stake your place in cyber space. A website can be as simple as one page with a slogan describing your practice, a paragraph about your services, an embedded Google map and your contact details. Talk to us about your requirements for a practice website
A Facebook page
Facebook is one of the first places patients will search for a local business and it’s also one of the first places they’ll leave a good (or bad) review. Many practices are not even aware that they may already have a place holder page on Facebook, where patients can give them ratings.
If you create your own page for your practice, you can request that Facebook merges all the other pages into it, so you can monitor incoming comments and reviews from patients.
If you’re feeling adventurous, it’s also worth setting up a Twitter account, which you can connect and post to directly from your Facebook page.
To celebrate the release of the MEDrefer Manager and MEDrefer’s integration with Genie Solutions, MEDrefer is offering Genie users an exclusive 20% discount on yearly membership when they register before April 30th.
The MEDrefer Manager is a small and compact computer desktop application that can be downloaded and installed in seconds and that syncs with your Genie calendar, letting referring GPs know your wait time for an initial consult. You can also update your availability manually if you have spare appointment slots or short term schedule changes.
The MEDrefer Manager allows Practitioners, Practice Managers and authorised Receptionists to easily view referral details, accept a referral and send information back to the referring GP. In the case of larger practices, the Practice Manager can also sign up for a MEDrefer account which will allow them to accept referrals on behalf of all specialists in the practice.
If you’re not at your work computer, you can still access all your referral history, professional profile information and availability settings from our secure website, anywhere that an Internet connection is available.
MEDrefer is also integrated with Best Practice, one of Australia’s leading GP clinical programs, meaning that your Specialist professonal profiles are available to more than 40% of Australia’s GPs (and growing).
MEDrefer gives specialists and authorised management staff the ability to send reports and notify referring doctors of non-attendance with one click, straight to the referring doctor’s clinical inbox. It also allows referrals to be downloaded in standard HL7 medical document format, straight to your electronic patient records.
MEDrefer provides a streamlined referral system which fulfills duty of care requirements and minimises all the most common complications that can arise in the referral process. Our system ensures speedy and easy communication between referring doctors, Specialists and Allied Health practitioners.
MEDrefer is the only referral system that addresses all the referral requirements, from searching for the availability and most suitable specialist right through to the final report, all in one program. This is of particular value to newer specialists establishing their practice, but also helps established specialists in communicating their sub-disciplines and special interests to referring doctors which attracts more appropriate referrals. It also enhances the communication path of the referral process for both new and established practices.
Ready to claim your Genie discount? Contact our support staff during business hours on firstname.lastname@example.org or 1800 556 022.
Here’s a quick recap of some of the big things we achieved in 2014:
We integrated with Best Practice, a market leading clinical application, so doctors can easily send a MEDrefer referral via their referral letter tool.
We introduced Practice Manager accounts, giving Practice Managers the ability to accept referrals and update details for multiple practitioners.
We introduced the MEDrefer Manager which integrates with Specialist clinical software Genie and allows Specialists and Allied Health to easily update their availability automatically from Genie and handle referrals from their desktop.
We’d like to say a big thank you to all the many people who’ve supported us throughout the year.
We’re hoping that 2015 brings even greater things and we’ll let you in on some of our upcoming developments early next year.
We’ll still be available over the holidays, so if you have any concerns or questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at email@example.com or 1800 556 022.
To all our members, partners and associates, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
We’re excited to announce a new feature release at MEDrefer.
MEDrefer realises that Practice Managers play an integral role in the management and organisation of any medical practice.
MEDrefer have just released an update specifically so practice managers can more easily meet their duty of care obligations for specialist and allied health referrals within their practice.
Practice manager accounts have been introduced to the MEDrefer system, allowing them to accept referrals on behalf of all specialists in their practice. They can also update the clinical profile, availability and preferences on behalf of each specialist in their account.
MEDrefer’s main goal is to create a streamlined referral process which fulfills the duty of care requirements and minimises all the most common complications that can arise in the referral process. Our system ensures speedy and easy communication between referring doctors and specialists.
Features that MEDrefer already provides but are now opening up to practice managers include the ability to send reports and the ability to to notify referring doctors of non-attendance with one click, straight to the referring doctor’s clinical inbox.
As always, our new upgrade prioritises secure data transfer and patient confidentiality while improving complete management of the referral process for the benefit of the patient.
MEDrefer is the only referral system that addresses all the referral requirements, from searching for the availability and most suitable specialist right through to the final report, in one program. This is of particular value to newer specialists establishing their practice, but also helps established specialists in communicating their sub-disciplines and special interests to referring doctors which attracts more appropriate referrals. It also enhances the communication path of the referral process for both new and established practices.
We’re also making a change to our payment structure after feedback from specialists. Our prices are changing to $15/month or $150/year per provider number.
Need help setting up your new practice manager account or integrating your current specialist accounts? Our support staff are always available to help during business hours on firstname.lastname@example.org or 1800 556 022.
You can check out our new payment system here, or read more about our practice manager accounts here.
We think MEDrefer is pretty awesome, but if you don’t know much about us, you might not really understand the benefits we can offer to GPs, specialists and patients. Here are the top ten reasons we believe MEDrefer makes a big difference in the Australian referral system.
MEDrefer allows doctors to keep their profiles up to date. Specialists and Allied Health Professionals can update their profile and availability at any time, so information is kept up to date. GPs can confirm your specialties, subspecialties and special interests at the point of issuing a referral. This reduces the likelihood of “missed referrals”.
MEDrefer allows referring doctors to see wait times and discuss these with patients. They can also see other details such as discipline, location, gender, language and special interest areas. All these factors help patients receive the most timely and suitable care to meet their requirements.
MEDrefer allows practitioners to fulfill their duty of care obligations. Specialists can notify GPs of cancelled appointments and no-shows with a single click and can also send reports following successful appointments straight to the GP’s Clinical System inbox.
MEDrefer is integrated with leading clinical software. In 2014, MEDrefer integrated into one of Australia’s leading GP clinical software programs, Best Practice. We’re also working on an update to integrate with leading specialist software, Genie.
MEDrefer minimises the likelihood of your patient having to return to you for another referral. Our easy to use referral system lets the GP choose anywhere from 1-5 specialists to refer to, with a single referral letter. This way, if the first specialist isn’t available for any reason, the patient can try one of the other recipients the GP recommended to them.
MEDrefer provides secure and easy storage options. If the specialist accepts the referral, the formal referral letter can be securely and automatically downloaded direct to their clinical software package, and in PDF format for hardcopy storage.
Information is available before accepting the referral. Reception staff are able to access a short summary of the referral before accepting the patient.
MEDrefer allows both specialists and practice managers to access referral information. We’re about to introduce our new practice manager accounts, which means that practice managers have easier access to specialist referrals for their clinic and can accept and organise appointments on a specialist’s behalf.
MEDrefer has a great support team. Our support team know the system inside out and are always ready to answer questions and provide information about using MEDrefer to its full potential in your practice.
MEDrefer is always adding new features. Our goal is to make the referral process as simple and accessible as possible for the GP, specialist and patient. We rely on your feedback to make sure the service achieves this, so we’re always happy to speak with you to hear your ideas about how me might do things better.