Electronic patient discharge summaries finally take shape
ELECTRONIC discharge summaries are finally on the horizon, with the release of new standards from the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA), but a leading IT expert has questioned the complexity of the specifications.
The electronic discharge summaries have long been touted as a measure that would improve continuity of care, and the new blueprint now outlines their design and content.
Under the standards, the discharge summaries will contain a patient’s personal identification, medical history, procedures carried out and medications prescribed.
However, according to health IT consultant Dr David More, the complexity of specifications on the template design and security protocols associated with the summaries means software developers may find them difficult to integrate into their current systems.
“It would have been better, as a first step, if we could get one page that describes the information [GPs need to receive],” he said.
“That should be the start, and we should improve the quality of that over time.”
NEHTA’s clinical lead Dr Mukesh Haikerwal dismissed the criticism, saying the standards needed to be robust enough for future e-health technology leaps.
“We’ll try it now and get it ready for the future – for when people can use unique patient identifiers and correct [e-health] terminologies,” he said. “It’s better to start with too much rather than too little. That way, we’re building for the future rather than the past – if they’re not enough, we’re already out of date.”
Best Practice CEO Dr Frank Pyefinch noted that until hospitals were fully e-health enabled, software providers would not hurry to integrate summaries into their systems.
He estimated it would be at least six months before work started on updating current software.