Written by Kate McDonald on 26 August 2013.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) have developed a new online education module that provides information and resources on the integration of a range of eHealth technologies in general practice.
In a statement, the colleges said the “Making eHealth work for your general practice” aims to assist GPs in adopting appropriate eHealth systems, build eHealth awareness, help GPs understand the principles and benefits of the PCEHR and simplify the implementation of eHealth tools.
ACRRM president Richard Murray said the colleges “recognised the lack of objective information” about the PCEHR in general practice, including the technology, functionality, privacy, security and, most importantly, usefulness.
“With the support of the Commonwealth government, the colleges have now developed this first-of-a-kind learning activity,”Professor Murray said. “We hope it is a catalyst for more rural doctors to be actively involved in discussions regarding shared records and contribute to the evolution of the system.”
RACGP president Liz Marles said that as the capability of the PCEHR develops over time, genuine engagement from GPs is urgently required to shape the evolution of the system to ensure it is a success.
“eHealth is the future of healthcare,” Dr Marles said. “It has tremendous promise to improve the efficiency, cost-effectiveness, quality and safety of healthcare delivery.
“With the fast emergence and change in eHealth applications and equipment, it can be challenging for GPs to choose the right technology for their general practice setting and to successfully implement it.
“If we as GPs align our expectations, goals and needs with those of our patients and choose eHalth options that are simple, usable and flexible, we can expect some great results.”
Dr Marles said the new learning module gives GPs the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills in the optimal applications of eHealth technologies and processes such as the PCEHR, telehealth, clinical software, secure messaging and social media.
Professor Murray said rural doctors have had no choice but to find smart ways to get things done for their patients and that “the bush is a breeding ground for innovation in healthcare”.
“Rural doctors have been early adopters of technology to meet their often unique health challenges,” he said. “Before government incentives and programs, we embraced electronic health records, electronic population health, point-of-care testing, portable imaging and many other innovations.”
The program is accredited for 40 category 1 points for RACGP members and 30 professional development points for ACRRM members for completion of the entire module.