WA Indigenous service embraces digital health

An indigenous health service in WA’s Pilbara region is leading the state in the use of digital health records.

Dr Yolande Knight

Wirraka Maya Health Service in Port Hedland provides primary care, wellbeing and prevention services, as well as coronovirus support and information, to over 7,000 Aboriginal people, many of whom are transient.

It has uploaded the highest number of event summaries and the ninth highest number of shared health summaries to My Health Record in the state, according to Digital Health Agency.

Shared health summaries contain key health information while event summaries record consultations.

The service has also viewed more uploaded documents than any other primary care provider in Western Australia.

Working with Indigenous health services

Wirraka Maya’s senior medical officer Dr Yolande Knight says the digital health record has been useful in keeping the service updated on patient information including pathology, imaging and medication dispensing.

She says the platform is particularly useful as many patients  move from region to region.

“We can see what other doctors have requested and performed, overcoming the delays waiting for records requested from other practices and providers,” she said.

“Equally, we can upload and share what we’ve done, so when the patient attends elsewhere, their record is current and available to other practitioners.”

The ADHA has been working with the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) sector to increase digital health understanding and use for services and consumers.

In WA, this has included conducting telehealth respiratory consultations in the remote Kunawarritji community and tele-chemotherapy sessions in the Kimberley.

The ADHA has applauded the uptake of the technology by Wirraka Maya and is using it as an example to advocate for the benefits of My Health Record in indigenous communities.

“It’s great to see an Aboriginal-controlled health service leading the way in achieving outstanding results in the use of digital technology,” co-chair of the agency’s reconciliation working group Steve Renouf said.

22.8m My Health Records

At June last year there were 22.78 million My Health Records in Australia, 19.41 million of which contained data.

As of last October 187,000 documents had been uploaded to My Health Record by GPs and viewed by others, while GPs viewed 416,000 documents uploaded by others.

The ADHA’s annual report reveals there were two security issues over 2019-20, including a potential threat to My Health Record’s supporting IT infrastructure and potential unauthorised access to a My Health Record.

Both issues were addressed.

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