Providing high quality health care has become increasingly dependant on information technology and information management systems.
Nganampa Health Council uses the Communicare Clinical Information System. The Communicare patient healthcare system is specifically designed for primary health care providers for defined communities such as Aboriginal Medical Services. It is the main system used by Aboriginal Medical Services in South Australia, central Australia and the Northern Territory. Further information on Communicare can be found at www.medisys.com.au.
The introduction of this system has had some important impacts. These includes:
- A lifetime of health checks and recalls are assigned to a patient as soon as they are entered into the database.
- The patient’s medical record is available to all clinics and to offsite Medical Officers at the time of the consult.
- Pathology results and other correspondence are now all accessed electronically.
- Visiting specialists have been using the system.
- Medicare claims are lodged electronically.
- Improved statistical analysis.
Nganampa Health Council is also involved with the expansion of the My e-Health Record into South Australia. Information on this system can be found at http://www.myehealthrecord.com.au/. Due to the highly transient nature of our population and the fact we operate in a tri-state region, such a system has the potential to offer our patients many benefits.
The environment that we operate in is perhaps the most challenging Information Technology environment in Australia. We need access to our database 24 hours a day, seven days a week, our patient information is highly confidential, we have limited telecommunication and technical support options and as an organisation we operate from 13 different locations.
These limitations and requirements mean we have four overriding principles that guide the development of our IT systems:
- Where possible mission critical systems should be outsourced.
- Redundancy should be built into all systems.
- As on the ground technical support is limited, we need the ability to manage our systems remotely.
- Simplicity in systems is often better.
Our server that houses our server is based in Sydney and is managed by a professional data centre. Information on this centre can be found from www.ac3.com.au. Our preference is to use thin clients in the clinics as they are more secure and in many ways are simpler machine. Redundancy is built in with the major clinics having, for example, two Internet connections. The systems developed have been very stable and there have been limited major disruptions to clinics.
Our IT/IM developments are funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing.
An article from The Australian discussing out IT/IM developments can be accessed from