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Telstra Health and Global Health have together achieved two-way interoperability to securely transfer patient information between healthcare providers.

Following a 12 month collaboration between the two parties, which also included engagement with a broad range of clinical software vendors, healthcare providers can now securely exchange clinical information including referrals, progress notes, specialist letters, discharge summaries, diagnostic results and home medicine reviews, electronically.

Michael Boyce, Head of Core Businesses, Telstra Health said: “This collaboration between Telstra Health and Global Health is a great example of industry working together towards an interoperable health system. The enthusiastic participation we’ve experienced on this project from Global Health and practitioners across the health sector demonstrates the huge appetite from industry to make progress in this area.”

“The significance of this milestone isn’t so much about the technology itself as we’ve had the technical capability to achieve this for some time. The significance is the collegial way we’ve worked with Global Health towards a common goal to deliver an outcome that has huge benefit to the industry and to patients. As an industry, we need to do more of this,” he added.

Interoperable secure messaging is a core focus of the Australian Digital Health Agency’s (ADHA) strategy, which aims to ensure every healthcare provider has the ability to communicate with other professionals and their patients via secure digital channels by 2022.

By enabling the secure digital exchange of clinical information, there is a great opportunity to improve the safety, quality and continuity of healthcare in Australia, and deliver cost efficiencies at a time of increasing pressure.

Secure messaging interoperability was achieved using the existing Secure Message Delivery (SMD) standard specification (ATS 5822-2010 eHealth Secure Message Delivery) developed by the National eHealth Transition Authority (NeHTA) and Standards Australia, with a more practical approach to identifying the endpoint details of the recipient.

Interoperability uses existing infrastructure, business practices and workflows, which means that providers can benefit from this development without interruption, simply by upgrading to the most up to date version of each vendor software.

This milestone supports the work that Telstra Health is leading through a consortium of secure messaging vendors as part of a proof of concept trial funded by the ADHA to demonstrate a scalable solution to implement interoperability of secure messaging.

“We’re looking forward to building on this success to enable the secure transfer of clinical information across more of the sector,” said Mr Boyce.