WA Health is to purchase a major chunk of the underlying software and services to facilitate the delivery of the national Health Identifiers initiative being managed by the National e-Health Transition Authority (NeHTA).

According to WA Health documents the agency will shortly procure software to provide an Enterprise Master Patient Index and an Enterprise Provider Index. Services include implementation and integration with other healthcare systems and data cleansing.

“The rollout of the [Health Identifiers] HI Solution will focus initially on public health providers,” the documents read. “The project will provide the technology, organisational capability and policy support to extend the solution subsequently to private providers.

“The solution will form a foundation for HIN [Health Information Network] programs such as Electronic Medical Records and Community Health Systems, and contribute to the rollout of National e-Health Transition Authority (NeHTA) standards and National IHIs [Individual Healthcare Identifiers] across all jurisdictions.

“Additionally, the HI Solution will be integrated with existing and proposed WA Health systems and interfaced with other providers’ systems and with the National Health Identifiers service.”

According to WA Health, the agency currently has more than 30 unrelated sources of patient and provider identification in use as a result of increases in the number of locations from which patients can access care, the diversification of health care delivery, and increases in the number of health care providers.

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As a result, some patients have to date been incorrectly identified leading to “adverse patient outcomes”, Reductions in the standard of health care provided and in clinicians’ ability to provide coordinated care, as well as clinician time being wasted managing and reconciling duplicate patient and provider records.

The Health Identifiers initiative is aimed at setting up nationally assigned unique numbers which identify a patient, a qualified person that provides health services or an organisation that provides health services.

Under the federal Healthcare Identifiers Act 2010 state health departments are required to implement a method of uniquely identifying patients and providers, in order to prepare for the national rollout of the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR).

In addition to the PCEHR, Western Australia is also running its own WA Health Electronic Medical Records (EMR) program which requires the creation of a unique single source of patient and provider information.

The Health Identifier Solution will be a “critical enabling technology” to further local programs such as the state’s Patient Administration System (PAS), Clinical Information Systems (CIS) and the Electronic Medical Records (EMR) Program.

The initiative follows NeHTA’s coming under fire in late July from Liberal Senator for Queensland, Sue Boyce, for repeatedly failed to deliver projects on time.

Addressing attendees of the Technology in Health Administration Conference in Sydney, Boyce said NEHTA constantly changed goals, plans and deadlines to ensure that tracking its progress is almost impossible.

“To be blunt I don’t think they’ve done anything much ... except waste a lot of money and a lot of time,” Boyce said. “NEHTA loves a guiding principle, and a vision and a purpose and a mission it sometimes sounds more like a cult than a builder of anything.”