Aged carers could get cut-rate mobile e-health

Non-profit builds clinical records app, throws into the cloud

A Perth-based not-for-profit will offer its enterprise in-house built e-health smartphone application for cost-price to hundreds of aged care facilities.

The platform means nurses can build detailed patient records on medical treatments, symptoms, and pain, fatigue and nausea levels. Aged care providers can use the application for reporting and finance services.

The system, dubbed ComCare, is used by more than 1000 Silver Chain mobile nurses using Ericsson smartphones. The WA health care provider has up to 700 nurses using the system at any given time who service more than 40,000 patients a year.

Chief information officer Allan Turner said he is in talks with cloud hosting providers to make the system available to small aged care facilities “as cheaply as possible”.

“We want to structure it where all smaller organisations that don’t have enterprise capability can access it for cheaply,” Turner said.

The Java-based system was developed on the Symbian platform by a team of seven internal software developers — five on .Net and two on Java — and tested by a further five support staff.

“Staff can take photos of wounds to build a profile of care for patients,” Turner said. “But the benefits aren’t about wound management on devices of timesheets, it’s about having a connected workforce.”

He said the system could eventually accept electronic data from pharmacies, general practitioners, or hospitals, and provide the industry with updated benchmarks on clinical treatments.

Rod Young chief executive of the Aged Care Association of Australia said technology that supports clinical decision-making will “grow enormously”, as the work-load on aged care nurses is expected to double over the next decade, according to recent Access Economics data.

About 100,000 aged care beds, or 60 per cent of the national total, are attached to electronic medical health records, according to Young. “We will need 100 percent within a couple of years.”

Turner hopes that the system will integrate with e-health services that, as part of the Federal Government’s national e-health strategy, could see Australia’s health providers swapping clinical data over standard technology. Under that plan, electronic health identifiers will record each treatment, condition and aliment into a medical history that will stay with every Australian for life, and be accessible by each health practitioner in the country.