Digital health
(data, information and communications)

The APA’s ambition for the physiotherapy profession is to have world-leading digital health capability. This will provide enhanced client safety and outcomes and a stronger health system. World-leading digital health capability will help us fulfil our professional obligations to clients, families, communities and the wider health system, as well as to physiotherapists themselves.

Our members frequently request information about practice management software products and comparisons between different products. They wish to use innovations in information and communication technologies to assist them in providing high value services to their clients and to interact with other health professionals.

As a result, the APA has embarked on a ‘digital discovery’ project to explore several areas of opportunity to support digital physiotherapy health solutions:

  1. Electronic health record/practice management software
  2. Secure electronic communications - email and messaging
  3. Electronic PROMs (Patient Reported Outcome Measures) and PREMs (Patient Reported Experience Measures)
  4. Emerging digital health ecosystems
  5. My Health Record
  6. Developing a national aggregated data registry

The digital discovery project commenced in July 2017 and an exhaustive stocktake of the current environment was undertaken - meeting physiotherapists already using digital health solutions, reviewing international literature on digitally-supported physiotherapy and meeting with technology experts.

We have documented the critical areas in which the APA must support the physiotherapy profession in order to provide world-leading digital health capability.

One of these is a product feature survey of popular practice management software used by physiotherapists in private practice. Our work has identified five streams of activity in which we anticipate supporting the profession:

Physio 3.0

The contemporary models of physiotherapy provision which are being supported by technology, from more common services such as video-consultation to cutting edge work such as remote tele-monitoring.

Engine-room

The smart, interoperable ‘platform’ and data analytics capability that is needed to create high value, including, but not limited to, a fit-for-purpose electronic (health) record.

The constellation

The ‘peripherals’ – devices, apps and capabilities that fill in the ‘white space’, and can be added, updated, modified, and deleted over time as requirements change and new capabilities develop.

Analytics hierarchy

The who, when, where and what of using the data to create value – at person, clinic, organisation, region or national level.

Back of house

The work on facilitators, such as regulatory change, funding mechanisms, workforce development, that will make Physio 3.0 sustainable.

Additionally, we are working on a digital health roadmap which includes developing a health information exchange, facilitating an aggregated data registry and reporting service, and a pathway for digital implementation across the profession, from early adopters through to change resistors.

 
 
 

Our members recognise tools that will facilitate data collection, benchmarking on outcomes and costs that will enhance communication and improve coordination of care are key to accelerating their ability to provide high value services.

In a competitive landscape, having world-leading digital health capability will greatly assist us in demonstrating the benefit of physiotherapy and differentiating our profession from others - ultimately, providing safe and high value services to the community, and consolidating our position in the broader healthcare system.