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ADHA CTO reveals future of WofG eHealth

by Angel Jemmett •
Free resource

Deloitte will take over all of the ADHA’s API services, as well as consumer and hospital mobile capabilities under an Application Programming Interface (API) gateway contract awarded in July 2021.

The gateway will be deployed using secure cloud technology, according to Dr. Malcolm Thatcher, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA). Thatcher was addressing an Australian Information Industry Association online audience on 25 August 2021 on the ADHA’s future priorities.

Thatcher told the audience that the COVID-19 pandemic created a massive uptake of My Health Record by both clinicians and patients.

He said that there were 6.3 million active health records when the ADHA was formed in 2016. Following the pandemic, the number has risen to over 23 million.

This rapid boost in My Health Record utility will help to shape future ADHA programs through increased data access and information exchange, he said.

Thatcher also said that governments across Australia are beginning to embrace My Health Record as the access point for vaccination certificates and pathology results.

The current ADHA strategy, which was implemented in 2017, is set to expire next year. Ahead of this, Thatcher provided the audience with the agency’s updated set of priorities for future eHealth delivery. 

He also used the opportunity to launch a national online eHealth survey. ADHA expects the survey to help align the new strategy with the needs and values of healthcare providers, consumers, and industry partners. 

Thatcher lists utilising My Health Record, developing cross-government information sharing and collaboration, as well as increasing the public’s take-up of digital health services as major priorities for the agency.

The ADHA gateway contract with Deloitte is one of the ADHA’s major modernisation initiatives, according to Thatcher, and the ADHA also plans to introduce a series of new API’s to promote interoperability within the existing digital health ecosystem.

The ADHA also plans to move towards a multi-supplier model for future projects. While the agency holds a long-term national infrastructure operator (NIO) contract with Accenture, Thatcher said that Deloitte has recently joined the arrangement.

Thatcher says this will enable stronger partnerships, build capability to respond more quickly to emerging policy needs and emergency events, and gives industry the opportunity to innovate.

Thatcher also plans to transform ADHA procurement. He aims to promote a ‘co-design’ procurement model, which would see the agency take an outcome-based approach rather than a ‘prescriptive’ one. In requests for tenders, the agency will state the problem and desired outcome and select suppliers based on their problem-solving abilities and unique skillsets, he said.

Thatcher said that as of 26 August 2021, vaccination certificates will be displayed on My Health Record and the Medicare app.

The ADHA is also on the market for the development of a mobile app that consumers will use to access their My Health Record data, including COVID vaccinations and rapid tests.

Thatcher also addressed concerns surrounding how the ADHA will manage fraudulent vaccination reports, saying the government is pursuing the use of a secure 3D barcode with a corresponding app for authentication.

He told the audience that the pandemic resulted in over 30 million telehealth services being delivered across Australia in 2020, successfully challenging assumptions that traditional forms of healthcare delivery could not be replaced and illustrating how new models of care can be swiftly delivered when needed.

Thatcher said that new models and pathways of care are evolving at unprecedented speeds.

Digital health has provided better connections between doctors and patients, as well as enabling Australians to maintain their safety during the pandemic.

Among these emerging new opportunities is the fast-tracked e-prescription service introduced last year, which has resulted in half a million e-scripts being issued per week by over 22,000 healthcare providers.

Thatcher was appointed as the ADHA’s new CTO in January 2021. His previous roles include Chief Health Information Officer (CHIO) for Queensland Health, interim Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Chief Executive for eHealth Queensland, and CIO for Mater Healthcare Group.

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