News and Notices

A simple step towards greater patient safety

Hospital clinicians and primary care GPs now have one-click access to some of their patients’ mental health or addictions records, replacing the ‘break the glass’ system where records had to be requested.

Records from 2016 are now available via the Health Connect South and HealthOne systems, with the same confidentiality protections and auditing steps in place.

Jane Kinsey, General Manager Mental Health, Addictions and Disability Support Services, says that the access change is an important ‘equally well’ initiative where people are cared for as a whole person rather than attempting to manage physical and mental health separately.

“It’s important to minimise any barriers between physical and mental health/addictions services so that clinicians and GPs have the fullest range of information about the person they are caring for. That way, they can make the most informed decision about someone’s care,” Jane says.

Dr Nick Baker, Chief Medical Officer, says that the change is a significant step towards patient safety. “The move towards shared patient records, for patient safety, has taken great leaps forward with the introduction of the HealthOne system in 2017,” Nick says.

“With HealthOne, records are now shared between a person’s healthcare professionals at hospitals, general practice and some pharmacies. We are excited to be able to extend this to mental health and addictions service users.

“Having better access to information means we can provide better care. For example, if a clinician is aware of a patient’s full medication record, or any particular diagnoses and treatment underway, then they can avoid potentially-fatal medication errors, unnecessary repeat testing and unnecessary repeat psychiatric assessment,” Nick says.

The HealthOne digital system includes improved patient confidentiality features. Nick says that any visit to Health Connect South is detectable, and access to records are regularly and randomly audited.

“This aims to ensure that only those health professionals who directly provide care to someone are accessing that person’s information,” Nick says.

Jane Kinsey says that shared records will also help towards the de-stigmatisation of mental health and addiction.

“By treating these records the same as other healthcare records we are taking mental health and addictions out of the silo. Our service users expect healthcare professionals to know their medical history. We are really just catching up and de-stigmatising their particular health needs.”

All patients, including mental health and addictions clients can opt out of the HealthOne shared records system where GPs can see their hospital or secondary care records.

Find out more about HealthOne, and the opt-out options on the HealthOne website.