MediConnect was a centralised electronic system holding personal medication records linked securely to people by the use of their Medicare card number and/or Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) file number. It drew together medication data from different health care providers, ensuring that important medications and associated information was available when it was needed by participating doctors, pharmacists, (hospitals in Field Test phase two) and consumers. The system was field tested between 17 March 2003 and 31 December 2004 in Launceston ( Tasmania ) and Ballarat (Victoria). Key functional components will be included in the design of HealthConnect- Australia's system of electronic health records.
MediConnect was an Australian government initiative in health care developed by the Department of Health and Ageing and Medicare Australia in consultation with health care professionals and consumer groups. It was designed to improve quality and safety in medication management, by improving access to medication information through information technology. This meant it could also prevent health problems caused by medicines reacting adversely with other medicines or allergic reactions to medicines.
MediConnect created an electronic consumer medication record. The MediConnect record was formed by linking prescriptions-written by different participating doctors and dispensed by different participating pharmacies-into a single medication record held in a central repository for each participating consumer.
Eligible Tasmanians and Victorians were able to control their individual records and participate in MediConnect. Registration was voluntary and once registered, consumers could access a copy of their MediConnect medication record from their doctor, pharmacy or Medicare Australia. They could also add information to it by either writing/calling Medicare Australia or visiting a Medicare office.
With the consumer's consent, doctors and pharmacists were able to access a MediConnect medication record using internet communication and MediConnect enabled prescription writing and dispensing software products. Hospitals were only able to access a consumer's medication history. This was done via a secure web browser. There was a high level of security for MediConnect internet transactions through the use of Public Key Infrastucture (PKI). PKI certificates are issued by eCertificates.
The Field Test was conducted in two phases and was voluntary for all participants. Phase one included basic functions and evaluated the technical aspects of MediConnect. Phase two included additional features and evaluated the business processes. It was envisaged that the system would gradually be rolled-out nationally in regional increments, but this did not occur. However, the lessons learnt will be incorporated into the design of HealthConnect, with MediConnect to be integrated into HealthConnect as the medicines component of the network.
The MediConnect Field Test has been one of the largest eHealth trials ever conducted in Australia. The participants-in both Ballarat and Launceston-included over 3100 consumers, 62 GPs, 100 pharmacists (from 37 pharmacies), two hospitals and two aged care facilities. During the Field Test, over 110,000 messages were sent between health care providers and MediConnect.
The MediConnect Field Test formally concluded on 31 December 2004. All participants were sent a letter informing them of this in December 2004. The end of the Field Test will not affect their access to health care and medicines in any way.
A full evaluation of the Field Test and a period of consolidation of the lessons learned followed. The final evaluation report drew together the evaluation results and was prepared with the aim of providing feedback to participants on the key lessons.
Information for interested providers and consumer participant forums were held in both Field Test locations after the completion of the Field Test.
Health care providers who participated in the Field Test received assistance to ensure their business and information systems continued to function without interruption after MediConnect software and business processes were de-activated.
The MediConnect key functional elements will be incorporated into the design of HealthConnect - Australia 's system of electronic health records. Plans are well underway to begin implementation of HealthConnect in Australian states and territories-starting in Tasmania , South Australia and the Northern Territory in 2005.
Consumers who participated in the Field Test have the option to obtain a printed copy of their complete MediConnect record which was collected during the operation of the Field Test. Consumers can obtain their record by writing to the HealthConnect Project Manager, PO Box 1001 , Tuggeranong, ACT 2901 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org . The consumer's contact details should be included in the request.
Consistent with national protocols, all electronic data collected from consumers and held in the MediConnect system will be kept-by law-for a minimum of seven years, after which time it will be destroyed. Data downloaded from MediConnect by authorised providers during the Field Test is considered to have become a component of those providers' computer records and therefore will not be destroyed.
Last updated: 8 January, 2013