17 October 2023

SafeScript NSW, the state’s real time prescription monitoring system, will have new functionality in early November.

The new approval management functionality offers an efficient and centralised solution to streamlining the authority/approval management process to prescribe and supply certain high-risk medicines.  

Why introduce this new functionality?

As part of the Ministry of Health’s commitment to improving the application and management of NSW State Authorities for certain high-risk medicines, the new functionality will provide:

  • an easy-to-use online application form which may result in real-time, instant approvals
  • greater efficiency and transparency of application information from NSW Ministry of Health
  • easily view, monitor and track active approval applications for the last two years
  • a centralised repository of all approval/authority information associated with your patients

What is being launched?

Initially, it is anticipated prescribers will be able to apply for Opioid Treatment Program (OTP) and schedule 8 psychostimulant approval types. Additional approval types will be available in SafeScript NSW over the coming months. 

How can the functionality be accessed?

This functionality will be integrated into the SafeScript NSW portal so prescribers who are registered for SafeScript NSW will be able to access the new functionality when it becomes available.

Pharmacists will be able to view summary OTP approval information, including the approval number, start and end dates, and prescriber, patient, drug and dose information.

Prescribers and pharmacists who are not yet registered for SafeScript NSW can register for the system.

Support resources will be available

An array of resources, such as detailed instructions, quick reference guides and videos, will be available on the SafeScript NSW Help section as well as the SafeScript NSW website.

A note about authority/approval wording update

To streamline the process for prescribing or supplying certain high-risk medicines, and to distinguish it from the Commonwealth PBS authorities, NSW Health is updating terminology currently used from ‘authorities’ to ‘approvals’. In SafeScript NSW, an approval is a reference to an authority issued under the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act. Please note this transition will occur in alignment with the launch of SafeScript NSW’s new functionality.

More information about the SafeScript NSW approval management launch will be sent to all prescribers and other impacted users soon.

If you have any questions, contact the SafeScript NSW team by emailing safescript@health.nsw.gov.au

17 October 2023

In an era driven by digital advancements and the increasing importance of data in healthcare, interoperability has emerged as a key priority for healthcare organisations and professionals.

Interoperability is the ability of different healthcare information systems to seamlessly exchange, interpret and use data.

It promises to improve patient care, enhance clinical decision-making and streamline administrative processes.

However, at the heart of this transformation lies a fundamental requirement – clean data. 

Clean data defined 

Clean data, in the context of healthcare, refers to data which is accurate, complete and consistent.

It is free from errors, redundancies and inconsistencies which could compromise its reliability and usability. Clean data is critical for enabling the efficient and effective exchange of information between healthcare systems, a prerequisite for successful interoperability. 

Challenges in achieving clean data

Clean data is not without its challenges.

Some common hurdles include data entry errors, inconsistencies in coding and terminology, varying data standards, and issues related to data integration and mapping between systems.

Addressing these challenges often requires a combination of technology, standardised processes, data governance and education. 

Coded data

Coded data refers to information which has been systematically converted into specific codes or symbols from a standardised terminology or classification system.

In healthcare, this is commonly used for various purposes, including recording medical diagnoses, procedures, medications and other clinical details.

These codes are structured to ensure consistency, accuracy and interoperability across different healthcare systems and providers.

They serve as a common language, allowing healthcare professionals to communicate and exchange information effectively. 

The challenge of using “free text” instead of choosing correctly coded terminology lies in the potential for variability and ambiguity in unstructured narratives.

When healthcare practitioners rely on free text to document patient information, it can lead to inconsistencies, misinterpretations, and hinder interoperability.

To overcome this challenge, healthcare systems and professionals should prioritise the following strategies: 

Data: the lifeblood of healthcare 

Data in healthcare encompasses a vast spectrum of information, including patient records, research findings, health measurements and more.

This data is the lifeblood of the health and care system, influencing every aspect of healthcare. 

When we think digital – we need to think data. Data will be the lifeblood of the health and care system as we move to digital. 

From data to insights 

Data and the information derived from it form the foundation of decision-making in healthcare.

This includes clinical decision-making, administration of healthcare services, research and patient empowerment.

Information aggregates relevant data from sources like patient records, research and medical inputs.

Interpreting this data provides insights which enable informed decisions. 

Quality data is the key to generating valuable insights.

It ensures accuracy, completeness, consistency, and reliability.

When data quality is upheld, trust and confidence in the insights generated are reinforced. 

Quality in data: creating value 

Maintaining data quality is a shared responsibility across the healthcare ecosystem.

Legislation, regulations and systems provide a framework for data management, but it is essential for individuals to embrace a culture of data quality. 

Quality data is data which is accurately captured, categorised, shared in a timely manner and free from duplication.

The healthcare system generates vast amounts of data, yet issues with data quality hinder its potential, leading to inefficiencies, errors and potential harm. 

Data quality and safer practice

Patient safety, care coordination and privacy rely on correctly linking patient data across healthcare organisations.

Duplicate records pose risks, including privacy breaches and reporting errors.

Safer practice, therefore, hinges on data quality. 

Importance of enabling and connecting care 

Digital health’s significant advantage is in connecting care across a patient’s journey.

This supports multi-disciplinary care and a seamless experience for patients, practitioners and caregivers. 

Connecting care involves linking information across health services, providers and consumers.

Digital systems such as the My Health Record, electronic prescribing and integrated medical imaging aim to enhance this connection, emphasising the need for high-quality data. 

Trusted data which follows the patient across health interactions with the many health providers and practitioners they encounter is the most important component to link and connect care. 

Managing personal data: patient expectations 

Patients expect healthcare organisations to responsibly manage their personal data, ensuring privacy and confidentiality.

This is vital for building trust and confidence in the healthcare system, leading to a more personalised and improved patient experience. 

Digital transformation: shaping the future of healthcare

Healthcare organisations must invest in data quality and governance, implementing best practices for data management to ensure the promise of interoperability can be fully realised.

Clean data is not just a technical requirement; it is the cornerstone of better healthcare outcomes and a more efficient, patient-centric healthcare ecosystem. 

Immediate actions 

  • Training and education: Provide training and education to healthcare staff on the importance of using coded terminology. This helps them understand the benefits of structured data and encourages compliance.
  • Use of EHRs: Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are designed to facilitate structured data entry. Encourage healthcare providers to use the structured fields within your clinical software for documenting patient information.
  • Templates and decision support: Create templates and decision support tools within EHRs to guide clinicians in selecting appropriate codes. These tools can help reduce the reliance on free text.
  • Quality assurance: Implement quality assurance processes to review and validate coded data to maintain accuracy and consistency.

Embracing a culture of data quality and understanding its importance is the cornerstone of creating a healthcare ecosystem which is safer, more efficient and more patient-centric. As healthcare professionals, it is our collective responsibility to uphold the standards of data quality for a healthier, connected future. 

03 October 2023

Cyber Security Awareness Month is a timely reminder there are many ways we can protect ourselves and the healthcare organisations we work for from cyber threats.

The Australian Digital Health Agency hosts a number of cyber-security podcasts to help keep healthcare providers informed and prepared for cyber threats, including the latest Data recovery tips – do you have a response plan?

This podcast is for healthcare providers who want to ensure they and their business can easily get back on track if their practice is compromised by a ransomware attack.

It also includes a great example of how My Health Record can be particularly useful for specialists who have uploaded copies of their letters prior to a cyber-attack.

Listen to the agency’s podcasts.

Alternatively, you can access free eLearning modules, including the RACGP CPD accredited Digital Health Security Awareness module and other cyber-security modules.

26 September 2023

All general practice clinicians need to connect to the national Prescription Delivery Service (PDS) by 30 September to continue prescribing eligible medications.

The PDS is a centralised service which streamlines the delivery of prescriptions.

Find more information on the SWSPHN website.

What practices need to do

Help your practice transition to the PDS by:

Next steps

If you need support, please contact SWSPHN’s Digital Health team via email at DigitalHealth@swsphn.com.au

19 September 2023

SafeScript NSW is part of NSW Health’s commitment to reduce harm from monitored medicines and help save lives.

The prescribing and dispensing information in SafeScript NSW helps prescribers and pharmacists make safer clinical decisions about a patient’s care.

Healthcare providers have a role in providing accurate data in clinical systems to ensure there is a single patient record with reliable information on the prescribers, pharmacists and medicines used.

When prescribing or supplying Schedule 4 and 8 medicines, eHealth NSW asks you to:

  • Validate the patient’s Individual Healthcare Identifier (IHI) in your clinical software: This will ensure the right information is associated to the right individual at the point of care. Incorrect or missing IHIs can result in the creation of duplicate patient profiles in SafeScript NSW, which can lead to potentially inaccurate diagnosis, inappropriate prescribing and medical errors.

What can I do to help?
Click the ‘Validate’ button within the IHI section of your patient’s record. The minimum information required is their surname, first name, date of birth, gender and Medicare/DVA number.

Where can I find further instruction on how to validate IHI?

Click on any of the following clinical software links to get specific instructions on how you can validate this information on your system:

  1. Minfos
  2. Fred
  3. Z Software
  4. MedicalDirector
  5. Best Practice
  • Ensure you record the patient’s date of birth in your practice software: Please ensure the patient’s date of birth is entered into your clinical system. This helps to ensure accurate information is stored in SafeScript NSW and avoids duplication of patient records.
  •  Ensure your details are up to date in your practice software: Having accurate contact information makes it easier for you to be contacted by other health practitioners to clarify and confirm the treatment approach when required. When dispensing, ensure the prescriber and pharmacist information is correct. The pharmacist’s name should be the dispensing pharmacist, not the technician or pharmacy assistant. This ensures patient records are correctly matched, providing a more accurate patient history and reducing duplicate records in the system.
  • Ensure medicine information is entered correctly – When dispensing, avoid the free text entries where possible and record dosage and quantity information accurately. The SafeScript NSW alerts and notifications rely on this information being correct for it to accurately alert/notify prescribers and dispensers about any at-risk patients.

If you have any questions or would like to find out more, please email MOH-PharmaceuticalServices@health.nsw.gov.au, or email SafeScript@health.nsw.gov.au for more information about SafeScript NSW.

19 September 2023

As you may know, the Australian Government is introducing a new voluntary patient registration model called MyMedicare to drive improvements in primary healthcare for all Australians and deliver new funding packages to primary care providers.

Registration in MyMedicare is voluntary for patients, practices and providers.

MyMedicare patients will have access to:

  • greater continuity of care with their registered practice, improving health outcomes
  • longer MBS-funded telephone calls (Levels C and D) with their usual general practice
  • triple bulk billing incentive for longer MBS telehealth consultations (Levels C, D and E) for children under 16, pensioners, and concession card holders

MyMedicare practices will have access to:

  • more information about regular patients, making it easier to tailor services to fit the patient’s needs
  • new longer telehealth items linked to MyMedicare
  • the General Practice in Aged Care Incentive from 1 August 2024, which will support regular health assessments, care plans and regular GP visits for people in residential aged care homes
  • new blended funding payments to support better care in the community for people with complex, chronic disease who frequently attend hospitals. These arrangements will roll out progressively across the country over three years from financial year 2024-2025
  • Chronic Disease Management items linked to a patient’s registration in MyMedicare from November 2024, to support continuity of care for people with chronic and complex conditions. Patients who are not registered in MyMedicare will still be able to receive Chronic Disease Management items from their usual GP 

Visit MyMedicare for more information about eligibility and how to register, in addition to FAQs.

For more information on registering your practice, visit the Services Australia Health Professional Education website. This website has a range of eLearning modules to guide you through the registration process.

19 September 2023

World Heart Day, marked each year on 29 September, aims to raise awareness about cardiovascular health and promote heart-healthy habits.

In recent years, digital health initiatives have made significant strides in the field of cardiology, especially in the identification and care of heart disease.

Two groundbreaking advancements in this area are the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in heart disease identification and the use of wearable devices for remote monitoring.

These innovations have the potential to transform the way we care for heart patients, offering more accurate diagnoses and personalised treatments while enhancing patients’ quality of life.

AI in heart disease identification

Artificial Intelligence, particularly machine learning algorithms, has emerged as a game-changer in the early detection and diagnosis of heart diseases.

Here’s how AI is making a difference:

  1. Risk assessment: AI can analyse a patient’s medical history, lifestyle factors, and genetic predispositions to assess their risk of developing heart diseases. By identifying high-risk individuals, healthcare providers can implement preventive measures and lifestyle changes early on.
  2. Faster and accurate diagnosis: AI can analyse medical images such as echocardiograms, CT scans and MRIs more quickly and accurately than human experts. This speed and precision are critical in cases of acute conditions like heart attacks.
  3. Predictive analytics: Machine learning models can predict heart disease progression based on real-time patient data. This information allows healthcare professionals to customise treatment plans and interventions, thereby improving patient outcomes.

Wearable devices for remote monitoring

Wearable devices, such as smartwatches and fitness trackers, have become increasingly sophisticated and are now in use for the remote monitoring of heart patients.

Here’s how they are aiding in cardiac care:

  1. Continuous monitoring: Wearables can track a range of vital signs, including heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen levels, in real-time. This constant monitoring ensures any anomalies are detected promptly.
  2. EKG and rhythm analysis: Some advanced wearables offer EKG (electrocardiogram) capabilities, enabling users to record their heart’s electrical activity. This data can be shared with healthcare providers for a more accurate diagnosis of arrhythmias and other heart rhythm disorders.
  3. Activity and lifestyle tracking: Wearables provide insights into a patient’s daily activities, sleep patterns and exercise routines. Healthcare providers can use this information to recommend lifestyle changes tailored to the individual patient’s needs.
  4. Medication reminders: Many wearable apps include medication reminder features, helping patients adhere to their prescribed treatment plans.
  5. Emergency alerts: In the event of a sudden cardiac event, some wearables can automatically send alerts to designated emergency contacts or healthcare providers, potentially saving lives.

Challenges and future prospects

While AI in heart disease identification and wearable devices for remote monitoring offer immense potential, they also come with challenges.

Ensuring data privacy and security, addressing healthcare disparities in access to these technologies, and maintaining the accuracy of AI models are among the key concerns.

On World Heart Day, we celebrate the remarkable progress made in cardiac care through digital health initiatives.

AI’s role in heart disease identification and the use of wearable devices for remote monitoring have revolutionised the field, offering earlier detection, personalised care and improved patient outcomes.

As technology continues to advance, the future of cardiac care holds great promise for millions of heart patients worldwide, promoting healthier hearts and longer lives.

Create your poster for World Heart Day.

12 September 2023

Are you a GP, practice nurse or healthcare professional eager to integrate telehealth into your workflow and engage with Residential Aged Care Homes (RACHs) more effectively?

SWSPHN is providing an opportunity for you to learn alongside your RACH partners via a webinar. 

Webinar highlights: 

  • Empower your practice: Discover how telehealth can enhance your practice’s outreach and impact, especially in the context of RACHs
  • Healthdirect unveiled: Gain insights into the user-friendly healthdirect platform, your gateway to efficient telehealth consultations
  • Interactive Q&A: Get answers to your specific questions and concerns during our interactive Q&A session


Thursday, 21 September at 1pm. Register here 


Friday, 22 September at 12.30pm. Register here

Information about My Medicare 

The MyMedicare General Practice in Aged Care Incentive is a catalyst for a more robust and accessible aged care system, where telehealth plays a pivotal role in ensuring the wellbeing of our elderly population. 

My Medicare practices will have access to longer telehealth items (Levels C, D and E) linked to MyMedicare for children under 16, pensioners and concession card holders. 

Find out more about My Medicare 

Register for next RACGP MyMedicare session

Register for the next in a series of three webinars about MyMedicare, delivered by the RACGP in partnership with the NSW/ACT PHNs.

The webinar will be held on Monday, 18 September, from 7pm to 8.30pm.

In the next webinar, you can expect a ‘deeper dive’ into the initiative, together with responses to some of the many questions asked at the first session.

Speakers will include:

  • Mr Simon Cotterell, First Assistant Secretary, Department of Health and Aged Care
  • Dr Walid Jammal, General Practitioner, and member of the former Strengthening Medicare Taskforce

Register here


06 September 2023

The Australian Government is introducing a new voluntary patient registration model called MyMedicare to drive improvements in primary healthcare for all Australians and deliver new funding packages to primary care providers.

 Registration in MyMedicare is voluntary for patients, practices and providers.

 From 1 July 2023 you can:

  1. Check if your practice is eligible to participate in MyMedicare by visiting the MyMedicare webpage.
  1. Find out what you need to do to register your practice in the Organisation Register to get ready for MyMedicare by visiting Services Australia Health Professional Education webpage.

Registration starts with linking an Organisation in PRODA to Health Professional Online Services (HPOS). Once linked you can access the Organisation Register via the Organisation Register tile in HPOS at Services Australia HPOS webpage.

Once your practice is registered in the Organisation Register, and you have linked your eligible providers you will not need to complete any additional steps until 1 October 2023, when patient registration will become available.

28 August 2023

SWSPHN encourages GPs to use the secure Video Call solution of healthdirect Australia, the national virtual public health information service, for their regular telehealth conferences.

The COVID-19 pandemic shone a spotlight on telehealth as a practical and accessible way to deliver healthcare services when distance, mobility and other reasons prevented face-to-face consultations.

The Medical Board of Australia recently issued revised telehealth guidelines, which will take effect on Friday, 1 September. It emphasised: “telehealth consultations will continue as an important feature of healthcare in Australia”.

Telehealth has now been integrated into the services of many general practices across South Western Sydney and SWSPHN has rolled out telehealth equipment, including a laptop, webcam and speaker, to Residential Aged Care Homes (RACHs) across the region.

More than 90 per cent of eligible RACHs have taken up the offer of telehealth equipment, ensuring virtual healthcare will be available to residents. Healthdirect telehealth training has been provided to RACHs as the kits are rolled out. Read last week’s story

Healthdirect’s Video Call Resource Centre is purpose-built for health consultations, the video call itself is free for eligible health services and their staff and, most importantly, it is encrypted for security.

More information about Healthdirect video calls and training tutorials are available at: Healthdirect Australia Support