Renewed focus on general practice Digital Health Maturity in 2024

Digital health will remain a priority for Western Victoria Primary Health Network (WVPHN) in 2024 with project planning to reflect the results from the first ever digital health audit of general practices in the WVPHN region.

A total of 153 general practices completed an online Digital Health Self Assessment tool in March 2023 to identify how and when digital health activities were undertaken in primary health care. In assessing the results, WVPHN has discovered wide variability in use of digital health among practices in western Victoria.

For a summary of the results download the Digital Maturity Assessment Survey flyer (PDF 471KB)

WVPHN Chief Executive Officer Rowena Clift digital health was not a new concept, but it was ever evolving and an important part of today’s healthcare.

“As new technologies are developed, new ways to apply them in monitoring and managing our health are being identified. While the health sector needs to be across new developments, it also requires the skills and knowledge to select the most appropriate technologies for them and their patients,” Ms Clift said.

The survey results present a constructive picture of the use of digital health tools in primary health care in western Victoria with the responses representing 72 per cent of the 213 practices that were operating in the region at that time.

“Analysis of the results show that, on average, general practices in western Victoria have an intermediate level of digital maturity with 17 per cent reporting an advanced level of digital maturity,” Ms Clift said.
“While it is encouraging that a solid number of practices are familiar with digital health tools, the variance in maturity in practices across the region means we need to better target digital health training and support to ensure no practices are left behind,” she said.

The survey also found that all participating practices are using telehealth, although, telephone is the preferred option. In addition, 80 per cent use digital tools for auditing data and 70 per cent said staff were regularly using encrypted messaging tools for securely sending patient information to other providers.

“WVPHN’s priorities for 2024 include increasing knowledge of the benefits and opportunities for digital health tools and to further build on the use of secure messaging tools instead of fax and email to enhance patient privacy and security requirements,” Ms Clift said.

“We also want to ensure both health professionals and consumers are consulted as part of the design of future digital health activities and projects. Consultation will be key to delivering effective telehealth services, particularly for people living or visiting the rural and remote communities in our region,” she said.

The Digital Maturity Self Assessment survey was the first step in WVPHN’s three-year Digital Health Strategy that aims to facilitate an effective, efficient and secure digitally enabled primary health care system for delivering quality, accessible and value-based care to everyone in western Victoria.

For more information, go to our Digital Health web pages

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