Practice nurses key to PCEHR success
GENERAL practice nurses are pivotal to the successful implementation of the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) and its role in the Australian health system, experts say.
With the 1 July rollout date nearing, general practice organisations are gearing up to ensure practice nurses are at the forefront of change, with many expecting nurses to drive the implementation of the controversial record system.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) e-health spokesman Dr Mike Civil expected some practice nurses, particularly in rural and remote areas, to be the nominated healthcare provider for the patient.
“The practice nurse will become particularly important in rural and Aboriginal communities where a GP might only visit once or twice a week,” he said.
“Nurses are very good at embracing technology… In my experience, nurses are always good at keeping records such as immunisations up to date.
“[They] know the systems well, whereas some of the GPs are not always as thorough.”
Some practices might want nurses to facilitate an in-practice process so patients can register while attending an appointment, Dr Civil added.
APNA president Julianne Badenoch said, historically, practice nurses have been strong agents of early adoption and to the safe and efficient facilitation of change.
“Nurses will be vital to this change and adoption,” she said. “As a practice nurse, I know how much time I spend tracking down patient information from other providers; it will be a dream come true for this information to be potentially available in one portal.”
APNA vice-president Karen Booth said expectations of practice nurses driving the registration process were high and warned practice nurses to be prepared.
“Hopefully practices are already cleaning their data, ensuring medication and diagnosis’ are up-to-date,” Ms Booth said.
A health department spokesman said change and adoption activities were focused on practice nurses understanding their role.
“Practice nurses might, for example, answer patient queries on their PCEHR or direct patients to information on the PCEHR system as well as using the system itself.
“APNA is working with the PCEHR National Change and Adoption Partner to raise awareness of the PCEHR among members of the nursing community.
“The Practice Nurse Incentive Program (PNIP) provides incentive payments to practices to support an enhanced role for nurses,” he said.