Streamlining practice processes with secure messaging delivery

DMC Drummoyne has been aspiring to be a paper-free environment for years. However, as practice manager Fiona Kolokas explains, unlike internal staff training to utilise electronic systems, incoming paper correspondence must be addressed separately.

In addition to staff having to devote significant time to process, sign, date stamp, scan and shred, there was the issue of potential errors, possibility of patient file misallocation when scanning, and unsecure nature of reports posted by mail. 

Several years ago Fiona made it a priority to encourage the health professionals who communicate with DMC to do so electronically, initially via Healthlink which is seamlessly interoperable with MD Exchange in Medical Director, Best Practice, Genie, Zedmed etc. An administration staff member was tasked with and given protected time to identify DMC’s top referred specialists. Once the top 10 top referring specialists were identified, they were contacted and encouraged to adopt secure messaging. This process with repeated with the next 10 top referrers (and then the next 10). If met with resistance, Fiona or the principal of DMC would approach these health professionals personally. Fiona did have to engage in some training of specialist practice managers and also liaise closely with the Healthlink representative to facilitate adoption of secure messaging by specialists. 

Sydney Practice Manager’s Network was formed and this facilitated knowledge sharing including engagement of specialist practice managers who became change agents in these practices. Fiona contacted those already communicating with DMC and this saw an instant increase in electronic communication.

The next step was to also adopt Argus to engage those specialists using this secure messaging solution. This also saw an increase in electronic communication and significantly decreased the amount of incoming paper communication by around 50%. Recently DMC has also adopted Medical Objects.

According to Fiona, the incoming paper correspondence was halved, with almost 200 health professionals now sending correspondence to DMC electronically.

The key to the success was persistence, a team based approach (both internal and external) and turning over every stone. Fiona also identifies secure messaging promotion by other health organisations, for example, AAPM, RACGP, other peak bodies, and CESPHN to have contributed to secure messaging adoption by specialists. Putting Healthlink EDI on the letterhead of the practice was another small promotion which has increased the number of incoming messages.

Something to remember: not only does secure messaging save money but the much bigger issue is risk management, that is, results getting lost in the post and/or confidential information being opened by someone else, with the end result being important patient information potentially being missed by the GP.