22 October 2018

Six reasons digital disruption is about to really affect GPs


The Medical Republic is offering readers a big incentive to get involved in the emerging issues of digital health which are likely to affect them in the coming year. CLICK HERE for tickets to attend Wild Health No 3 next month. Your code is WHTMR1. Offer expires November 1.

If you think digital disruption and digital health issues aren’t likely to affect you that much in the near term as a GP, you might want to get along to Wild Health No 3, being held at the Seymour Centre in Sydney in one month’s time.

Here’s six major emerging issues that are likely to have an impact on you in the coming year and which will be debated at the this major innovation summit.

  1. Will the real My Health Record please stand up

Where does primary care really stand on the recent MHR opt-out launch? Most industry-based surveys indicated the majority of GPs were going to opt out, and felt conflicted by the decision of the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) to effectively automatically opt all patients into an MHR.

General GP thinking was that this was a fundamental breach of the idea of “consent” which underpins patient trust. But the ADHA maintains that its surveys indicate that majority of GPs support  the rollout? Where does the truth lie, and how important is it to get underneath this issue, given it looks like 95% of the population will not opt out anyway?

And even if GPs accept opt out, what is the real utility of the MHR to general practice? Is it really a record that is going to be easy to maintain for the patient and doctor, and equally easy to access when needed? And how will be shared seamlessly, if required, to allied health professionals, in the case of chronic care management?

And why have specialists been left almost entirely out of the MHR program so far? If specialists aren’t bought into the MHR, what is that going to do to the idea of effective care plans moving forward.

There’s a lot of good in the MHR idea, but it feels like there is a fair bit yet to sort out.

  1. Progress on interoperability and secure messaging in primary care still isn’t good enough

The ability of a GP to talk seamlessly and securely to pathology, imaging, hospitals, key allied health partners and specialists, will underpin the ability for the profession to make meaningful progress chronic care management.

Several technologies are emerging which are starting to connect primary care to their allied health partners via web sharing but the backbone of interoperability and the security surrounding it is still a mess, despite years of attempts to streamline processes.

When will your patient management system really connect you meaningfully to the people you need to do your job properly? What obstacles are in the way still? Will the big commercial interests – pathology, imaging and private hospital groups – give into government requests to co-operate or are they still just stalling for time?

  1. Your patient management system is your window to managing a brave new world where your patients are becoming more powerful in health decision making

Your humble patient management system is changing rapidly behind the scenes. MedicalDirector has a cloud version, which can allow you to become mobile and Best Practice is about to introduce a ground breaking patient side app that will allow you to have much more meaningful engagement with your patients, and introduce some very effective practice management efficiencies.

All the major vendors are wrestling with building cloud connectivity for you to become more mobile, and agile in dealing with allied health partners. New players, such as MediRecords, a local cloud-only PMS system, and Hello Health, a US based cloud player,  are entering the market and putting pressure on traditional vendors to move faster and provide more agile and functional systems.

The RACGP is even getting in on the act, offering to consult to the new US vendor on the scene Hello Health, and doing much work behind the scenes with the other vendors as s part of their e-health expert committee.

How much attention should be paying to this central piece of your daily workflow management in the next few years? What do you need to understand to move to a cloud-based system? What are the advantages of using a properly architected cloud system for your practice?

  1. The local key healthcare start-ups have some big plays about to hit which you are going to want to know about

Until now, the healthcare start-up scene in Australia as far as primary healthcare is concerned has been relatively tame, partly because our connectivity infrastructure in health is so poor.

We’ve had very smart ventures, such as the web based chronic care management program play by Melbourne-based group, Precedence Healthcare, called CDMnet.

Most GP practices are now tied in some way to an external appointments provider, such as HealthEngine or Hotdoc, and most are aware of the controversary surrounding the recent revelations about HealthEngine’s obscure T&Cs.

But we are about to see a lot of serious money and effort poured into major patient side data plays which will almost certainly impact primary healthcare providers significantly over the coming years, and which will also be talking in some way to GPs through their rapidly evolving PMS functionality.

Healthshare, the group that already provides you live access to specific patient information sheets during consults, one of the country’s best specialist referral directories, and key private health insurance gap information for you and your patient, is currently nearing the end of beta trials on a massive patient side consultation service, that has the potential to make a game changing difference to the efficiency of patient management in your practice. WH3 will detail this new venture.

Best Practice is also about to release the largest direct to patient app play in the country outside of the current leading consumer side app provided by Health Engine. The app however has the potential to reach more than 12 million patients in the country, compared with the current claimed reach of Health Engine which is only just over 1.5 million patients.

And then there is a major new patient-side content and aggregation play being planned by Tonic Health Media, currently the leading network of waiting room screens and information bays.

Healthcare is the last market into digital disruption for obvious reasons – it’s complex, full of risk, highly regulated and culturally difficult. But in the next few years, patients’ access and connectivity are set to fundamentally change how GPs practise

5. Hospitals without borders, or general practice moving upwards into the hospital and downwards into the home

The fastest moving digital health market in the world is the US. WH3 is bringing out one of the foremost digital interoperability thinkers in the US, Professor John Halmaka, who is Innovation Professor at Harvard Medical School, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston, US, and a practising emergency physician. Professor Halmaka is particularly over the issues of interconnectivity for patients in the hospital system, and the concept of “hospitals without borders”.

A hospital without a border is a hospital that has enough patient continuity and connectivity via web-based interoperability for a hospital to manage a patient at every level. Such a system requires intimate connectivity and vertical integration to primary health to be effective.

Both IPN and Primary Healthcare have programs to extend the work of general practice upwards towards specialist hospital-like day surgery and emergency clinics, based on the Apollo model in Western Australia, and downwards via mobile technology into aged care and the homes of the chronically ill.

The problem and the solution are the same. Professor Halmaka is a world leader on the topic.

  1. Is AI a slow boiling frog for general practice?

The march of artificial intelligence into health seems imperceptible. But go 10 years back and if you look at what doctors were facing then, compared with now, the changes are huge.

The arguments for AI not affecting GPs so much as certain specialisations are compelling, given the effectiveness of GPs relies heavily on the continuity and quality of patient relationships. But that isn’t to say that AI is not going to impact general practice more and more over the coming years.

The example of how radiology is changing as a profession seems extreme. But with significant new patient data plays coming online, there is no question that AI will play an increasing role in general practice at some levels.

It is already starting to have an impact heavily downstream on the practise of pharmacists, who are being relied upon less and less by consumers for day-to-day health information.

Much of this is happening behind the scenes. WH3 will discuss these effects with one of Australia’s leading AI health analytics academics, Professor Enrico Coiera, of Macquarie University’s Institute of Health Innovation.

The Medical Republic’s special offer for GPs and for TMR readers is 30% of the standard ticket rate.

Click HERE for a ticket.

Click HERE for more information on the event.

Your promotion Code is WHTMR1. You enter the code top right after you click the green ticket button on Eventbrite.

If you have any issues email: [email protected]. This offer expires on November 1.