Secure messaging to replace outdated fax machines

| January 15, 2019

The future of secure messaging and interoperability across the Australian health sector was discussed at a recent workshop held by the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) in Sydney, attended by more than 50 state and federal government officials, industry stakeholders and international experts.

One of the ADHA’s key priorities is to help healthcare providers across Australia communicate quickly, easily and securely, and to reduce the sector’s current reliance on outdated technologies like the fax machine.

For consumers, secure messaging means that that when they are being treated by different doctors in different locations and transferred from one doctor or hospital to another, their doctors and healthcare providers can securely communicate and provide safer and better care.

At the second Secure Messaging Industry Collaboration Workshop held in Sydney on 27 November 2018, Medical Software Industry Association President Emma Hossack, ADHA Chief Operating Officer Bettina McMahon, and Dr Nathan Pinskier, Clinical Advisor to the ADHA’s Secure Messaging Program, signed a communique committing to further collaboration on the adoption and implementation of secure messaging.

Several clinical software vendors are already providing secure messaging solutions to specific markets within Australia’s healthcare system — but the aim going forward is to implement a nationwide solution that embraces existing solutions and unifies them seamlessly.

“Secure messaging is a foundational capability enabling interoperability and safe, seamless, and secure information sharing between healthcare providers,” Ms McMahon said.

“Nationwide adoption of secure messaging will enhance the security, safety and efficiency of clinical information sharing across all sectors — ultimately aiding the provision of better healthcare for the community.

“To realise this goal, through events like the Secure Messaging Industry Collaboration Workshop, the ADHA is working collaboratively with industry, suppliers of secure messaging solutions, and clinical software vendors to reduce existing barriers to adoption and to provide pragmatic and implementable solutions.”

A key priority for the ADHA is the creation of a transparent, national directory of service providers that can be used for securing messaging.

At the workshop, participants agreed to continue working towards this goal, with the target of delivering a minimum viable product by June 2019.

The end result will be the equivalent of a national ‘yellow pages’ for all registered healthcare providers, enabling them to easily contact each other.

Working groups were also established to help identify and troubleshoot barriers to the adoption of secure messaging, improve the clinical experience, and to develop an industry alliance participation agreement and trust framework.

Ms McMahon said discussion at the Secure Messaging Industry Collaboration Workshop was highly constructive — and the future of secure messaging is in good hands.

“The Secure Messaging Industry Collaboration Workshop brought together some of Australia’s and the world’s best and brightest minds in healthcare IT,” she said.

“We will continue to work together collaboratively to strengthen and develop secure messaging and interoperability within the healthcare landscape, for the benefit of all Australians.”