An Aboriginal community health service in Western Australia has produced record results in the use of digital technology to ensure better connected care for local patients.

During 2020 the Wirraka Maya Health Service in Port Hedland uploaded the ninth highest number of Shared Health Summaries in the state – despite having around 7000 registered patients.

A shared health summary contains a patient’s key health information and helps GPs keep track of updates to pathology, imaging and medication history.

Wirraka Maya’s senior medical officer Dr Yolande Knight says the service is helpful due to the transient nature of many of their patients.

“We can see what other doctors have requested and performed, overcoming the delays waiting for records requested from other practices and providers. Equally, we can upload and share what we’ve done, so when the patient attends elsewhere, their record is current and available to other practitioners.

“We can also see what scripts were dispensed. It’s invaluable that PathWest results are automatically available. This helped us a lot with recent COVID-19 test results, where at times it was quicker to see the result on the patient’s record than to join the phone queue to get the result.”

Australian Digital Health Agency Consumer Advocate Steve Renouf says it’s great to see an Aboriginal-controlled health service leading the way in the use of digital technology.

“This commitment to digital service delivery will continue to enhance clinical outcomes in local communities and help breach the digital divide that can disadvantage remote patients.”

Mr Renouf says reliance on paper documents is a “massive problem.”

“It’s a massive problem right across Australia because we rely, in a lot of places, on paper records and files. This saves the clinic or GP ringing another clinic where they’re from and going through a slower process.”