Since the change in government a few months ago, there have been a number of media releases discussing the failure of the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records or the PCEHR.
The main point of discussion has been the lack of patient data uploaded to the portal. Only 5000 patient summaries uploaded to the billion-dollar portal. 5000 patient records from a population of over 23 million is without a doubt a justifiable reason for calling the project outcome a failure.
The main reason for failure, which has been touted around the media by many prominent health personalities, has been the difficulty for the doctors to use the system and access the data.
I agree that this is one of the reasons BUT it turns out it is not the main reason for the low usage of this platform. The main reason is much simpler and obvious, turns out that the high majority of doctors have never had exposure to the platform and as such, have never been able to understand how it could help them or their patients.
A survey was conducted to assess what doctors and practice managers really thought about the PCEHR and where they see it as part of the patient care journey. The sample demographic that took part in the survey are normal hardworking health providers, not early adopters or technology enthusiasts. The survey showed that all (yes 100 per cent) of the doctors and managers knew of the PCEHR and agreed that technology has made them more productive and efficient.
The big surprise is that 73 per cent have never had exposure to the PCEHR portal and have never been provided with information about how to use it or the benefits this project looks to address. When asked about who they thought would be the main organisation to provide them with this level of support, the top response confirmed that this is a change management failure rather than a technology failure.
41 per cent of the survey participants did not know the main organisation for PCEHR support whilst 35 per cent selected the Medicare Local.
Have you had any exposure to the PCEHR? 73 per cent responded “Yes”
It is safe to say that the sampled GP demographic want to embrace the PCEHR and are comfortable with using technology to assist them in patient care.
The PCEHR portal does have its challenges but it ultimately is a platform that will assist in better patient care and service delivery, there is no doubt about that. If anything, this survey has showed that both the government and stakeholders need to focus more in change management and showing the potential benefits of the PCEHR to health professionals as well as the consumer and patient groups.
Survey Results: –
‐ 34 participants took the survey
‐ Average technology confidence level is 6.26 out of 10. 0 being no confidence in using technology at all and 10 being a technology specialist.
‐ 64 per cent flagged the ability to share patient information with local hospitals as the most important priority.
‐ 81 per cent of the participants answered no when asked if they have been asked by their patients to upload their health summaries.
‐ 93 per cent of the participants answered yes when asked if they need more information and training on the PCEHR
‐ When asked who the main point of contact for more PCEHR information is, 41 per cent answered that they did not know who to contact and 35 per cent answered that they would contact the Medicare Local.
‐ All of the participants agree that technology in general practice has made them more efficient and productive. -‐ 73 per cent of the participants have never received any training or information about how the PCEHR works or on its benefits.
This survey was conducted by REND Tech Associates over a two-week period. A select group of general practitioners and practice managers were invited to take part in a confidential survey where non-identifiable data was used.