HealthLink and Medical Business Systems announce strategic partnership

Leading health-system integrator HealthLink, and Medical Business Systems (MBS), a leading provider of anaesthetic software, have announced a strategic partnership to create a secure messaging gateway for specialists to transfer critical patient data to anaesthetists. Read the full press release here

NZ Health IT Companies Pitch Across the Ditch

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) held a roadshow in three Australian capitals last month to showcase NZ’s eHealth and health IT capabilities. – Read the full PULSE+IT article here.

Tom Bowden resumes role as HealthLink CEO

HealthLink co-founder and former CEO Tom Bowden has resumed his role as the CEO of HealthLink, having stepped aside in May 2017.

Mr Bowden had been acting in an executive director role maintaining the company’s industry relationships with key vendors, including taking a leading role in the secure messaging interoperability trials being overseen by the Australian Digital Health Agency.

He was succeeded by then chief operating officer Graeme Stretch, who has moved back into a more hands-on technology role managing some new projects for the company.

HealthLink, the largest provider of clinical message services in New Zealand and Australia, joined the Clanwilliam Group when the Irish health software firm took a majority share last September.

HealthLink hits medical certificate milestone for SmartForms in Australia

HealthLink has hit a significant milestone with 20,000 fitness to drive medical certificates submitted to the NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) agency using its SmartForms technology since the capability went live just over a year ago.

SmartForms allow medical practices to submit clinical documents such as medical certificates and referrals directly from within the user interface of their practice management system rather than going out to an external location or via a toolbar.

HealthLink founder Tom Bowden said RMS is the largest of the company’s SmartForms projects in Australia and there are nearly 4,000 SmartForms sent out every month. The technology has been used for a number of years in New Zealand, where 8,000 SmartForms are sent every day and it is used for about 60 per cent of hospital referrals.

In Auckland, for example, all GP to hospital eReferrals are sent electronically. Auckland GPs and other healthcare providers have a range of 75 hospital referral forms to choose from, which can be accessed directly from within the GP’s PMS or via a standalone referrals portal that is purpose built for sending referrals.

“Referrers and hospital clinicians are able to use the system for a two-way dialogue and the system is also used to enable hospital staff to provide advice to referrers,” Mr Bowden said. “This lowers the need for hospital referrals and it enables patients to get access to care more quickly.

“HealthLink is working with clinician groups to expand its eReferrals system to enable hospital clinicians to refer patients to external services and to improve GPs’ access to diagnostic services and other community delivered capabilities.”

SmartForms also forms the basis of the CareSelect community referrals system, which has seen a 100 per cent increase in use over the past 12 months, Mr Bowden said. CareSelect can be used to refer to community-based specialists and allied healthcare providers as well as government and non-government agencies.

In Australia, the RMS medical certificates solution has been used by more than 700 NSW general practices and the vast majority of practices in the country are now able to launch a HealthLink SmartForm as the standards-based Aduro interface has been integrated into the leading software brands MedicalDirector, Best Practice and Genie.

Mr Bowden said HealthLink was close to achieving its goal of getting full coverage by the three vendors and the company is now working with a number of smaller and more specialised vendors to achieve the integration.

The company is also integrating the clinical document architecture (CDA) messaging format with SmartForms and has been using both technologies in some of the hospital eReferrals trials being sponsored by the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA).

HealthLink, Australasia’s leading health systems integrator, joins Clanwilliam …

HealthLink has been acquired by a global medical technology and service company.  Global healthcare technology specialist, Clanwilliam Group, has taken a majority shareholding in HealthLink, Australasia’s leading Health-system Integrator. The Dublin-based Clanwilliam Group consists of a number of healthcare technology and services businesses in Ireland, the United Kingdom and Australasia.

The purchase brings Clanwilliam Group’s investment in Australasia to nearly $NZ70 million so far this year, including another New Zealand company, pharmacy software provider Toniq.

The investment in HealthLink will help to unlock further growth for the company, with the potential of market expansion and product development support from Clanwilliam’s global network.

HealthLink provides a secure system for medical practices to communicate electronically with the rest of the health system. Nearly all the clinical communications used in New Zealand are shared through HealthLink and it is the largest provider of clinical messaging services in Australia.

More than 13,500 healthcare organisations and professionals exchange 100 million plus electronic messages a year via HealthLink.

“We are proud to have an innovative company like HealthLink as part of our team,” Howard Beggs, CEO of Clanwilliam Group says. “HealthLink is a perfect example of a healthcare technology company that continues to innovate to help improve efficiencies, productivity and reduce cost in healthcare. The seamless flow of patient information is a critical component of healthcare improvement, putting the most relevant information in the clinicians’ hands when they need it most.

“Clanwilliam Group can add value to the New Zealand healthcare system by drawing on our 30 years’ experience,” he says. “We are building a global group of healthcare technology and services businesses who can work together to improve healthcare services and the experience for patients. We hope to continue to grow our presence in New Zealand and Australia.

“In the United Kingdom Clanwilliam Group companies are helping to reduce the deficits of National Health Service trusts by about $NZ26 million annually,” Mr Beggs says. “The major cost drivers affecting the New Zealand and Irish healthcare systems are the same – the impact of an ageing population and increased chronic diseases,” he says.

“Technology is a key enabler for increased productivity, efficiencies and cost-savings across all healthcare systems. All Clanwilliam Group companies are focused on driving further efficiencies within the healthcare systems they operate in.”

Under the leadership and guidance of Mr Beggs, the Clanwilliam Group supports entrepreneurial spirit. Businesses within the group have access to a wealth of experience, technical expertise and resources as well as the opportunity to work alongside other health technology providers in the group around the world.

HealthLink is 50% of the way to Meeting its Australian SmartForms Platform Estab …

Implementation of HealthLink’s SmartForms’ service is dependent upon establishment of the Aduro Interface, a standards based interface that enables a GP or Specialist’s electronic medical record (EMR) system to communicate with a centrally hosted forms server.  It is the Aduro Interface that automatically pulls information out of the EMR in order to populate the eReferral or service order form prior to its being sent.

As of 1 October HealthLink was 50% of the way to implementing the Aduro interface across Australia’s main EMR systems.  With 4,300 sites now installed, HealthLink expects to reach the full 8,000 target sites by the end of 2016, with use of SmartForms applications ready to commence on a production basis early in 2017.  More than 95% of New Zealand General Practice sites have been installed and development by Incisive Software, New Zealand’s largest specialist EMR company is now underway.

While HealthLink SmartForms is a relatively new phenomenon in Australia, the Aduro SmartForms interface (also known as HISO standard 10014.2) is widely used across New Zealand for a range of purposes.  They include hospital and specialist referrals, pathology and radiology service ordering, medical certificates and accident insurance claiming.  Usage growth has been rapid since the platform was launched approximately eight years ago.  Today more than 180,000 SmartForms are being sent each month.

SmartForms technology is fully integrated within the EMR Interface and supported by the vendor.  It is not a widget, adaptor or a piece of software that is resident on an external sidebar.
The major benefits for an agency using SmartForms is that because the form is hosted centrally, the current version will always be used (rather than asking the GP or specialist to continually download the latest version, in case there have been changes).

The first major Australian EMR system to implement Aduro was Genie Solutions, Australia’s leading specialist software package used by an estimated 50% of Australia’s specialists. Medical Director implemented Aduro within its March release.  The numbers are growing steadily with about 10% of MD’s user base joining each month as more and more sites upgrade, at the current rate of increase we expect to see nearly 100% of MD users Aduro enabled by December.

Best Practice’s Lava release has seen a sharp increase in uptake as users upgrade and we would expect further rapid growth over the next few months.
A number of smaller systems, cloud based systems and systems developed for specialist groups, allied health providers and midwives have also embraced the concept and are at various stages of the Aduro integration process. (see table below).

Across the Tasman, all of New Zealand’s recognised GP and specialist vendors have implemented the system with leading player Medtech having played an important role in the service’s development.
GP-led MyPractice also played an important role too in launching the service and new market entrant Valentia has worked hard to ensure that its new cloud-based GP product.

Indici is fully SmartForms capable and ready to interact with The New Zealand Ministry of Social Development, The Accident Compensation Commission and The Auckland District Health Boards which are all enthusiastic users of SmartForms technology. Leading specialist EMR package Incisive Software has commenced implementation of the interface in order to meet the Auckland Regional District Health Boards’ target to have all incoming referrals electronic in early 2017.

The First New Zealand SmartForms initiative was a system designed to meet the needs of the New Zealand drug buying agency ‘Pharmac’ which administers the ‘Special Authority’ system. This a process in which a prescriber requests a government subsidy for a specialised medicine for a particular patient. SmartForms reduced the time taken to get a special authority approval from two weeks down to a matter of seconds.
Since that time SmartForms has become the standard means for exchanging complex information between New Zealand healthcare organisations.

In Australia, the first EMR package to send live SmartForms was Genie Solutions whose clients used the system to send referrals to Australian Hearing. Australian Hearing is the nation’s leading hearing specialist and largest provider of Government funded hearing services and provides hearing services to clients eligible under the Australian Government Hearing Services Program.

HealthLink and Oculo sign an agreement to help General Practitioners refer elect …

Oculo and HealthLink have signed an agreement to facilitate the flow of referrals from General Practitioners into Oculo’s optometrist users through secure electronic messaging. Oculo is a clinical communications platform for eye care. It has almost 300 ophthalmologists and 800 optometrists across Australia and is growing daily.

“Primary eye care needs to happen in the community,” says Kate Taylor, Oculo’s CEO. “We know that about half of people with diabetes and glaucoma aren’t getting adequate eye care. Making it easier for GPs to connect patients in to eye care services can help that. Making it seamless and secure is critical.”

HealthLink’s core focus is on ensuring that electronic communication processes are put in place to give patients certainty that their information has been appropriately handled.

“This is HealthLink’s first foray into optometry, although we already support many ophthalmology practices across Australia and New Zealand. Our partnership philosophy is to work with experts in specialized fields of healthcare information technology and together to build world-class systems,” says Tom Bowden, CEO and co-founder of HealthLink.

Dr Taylor explains, “Our vision is to link the eye care ecosystem – everyone who helps patients have the best vision and best eye care. This goes beyond ophthalmologists and optometrists to connecting GPs, hospital eye services and low vision support organizations to all work together with patients at the heart of it all.”

She continues, “We think the timing of this partnership with HealthLink is particularly apt, given yesterday’s release of the RACGP’s position statement on electronic communication and call for the phasing out of paper-based communications like faxes within three years.”[i]

About HealthLink:

HealthLink is an electronic communications and integration service that is used by all of the organisations within the health sector to exchange electronic patient information via their computer systems. HealthLink is used by more than 13,500 medical practices across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific region. The company has offices in Auckland, Brisbane, Townsville, Sydney and Wollongong. HealthLink has a growing presence in every Australian State and territory as well as an almost complete coverage of the New Zealand health sector. For more information contact or see

About Oculo:

Oculo is an internet-based secure messaging service to connect clinical communications between eye care professionals. It grew out of the Centre for Eye Research Australia. Oculo’s aim is to promote the efficiency and quality of clinical communications – and ultimately to help deliver the best possible care to eye patients so that they may enjoy the best possible sight. Over 3 million people in Australia and New Zealand have or are at risk of blinding eye diseases and need regular eye checks. Eye care professionals can provide better care with secure, auditable and shared clinical records, including clinical imagery. For more information, see

[i] Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. The use of secure electronic communication within the health care system. Sept 2015.

HealthLink releases the MyHealthLink portal – a system that will deliver deliv …

Australia and New Zealand’s largest health system integrator HealthLink has this week released the MyHealthLink portal, a stand-alone system designed to enable smaller medical practices and individual healthcare provider organisations to utilize the SmartForms technology that is currently in the process of transforming health sector communications.

The first release of MyHealthLink has been for the purpose of supporting the CareConnect eReferrals system.  CareConnect is in the process of making eReferrals mandatory for healthcare provider organisations referring patients to Auckland’s three district health boards.

Until now, the only systems capable of sending SmartForms have been the major general practice and specialists’ electronic medical records software of both countries.  In order to use HealthLink’s SmartForms, practices have had to be using an electronic medical record system (EMR) with either a HISO compliant (New Zealand) or an Aduro compliant (Australia) interface.  Current SmartForms users include nearly all general practices and the majority of specialists.  Now the MyHealthLink portal will expand the availability of SmartForms to a number of smaller medical organisations that do not have Aduro or HISO compliant EMR systems. Eventually, using MyHealthLink, smaller organisations will be able to do electronic referrals, order pathology and radiology services and send an increasing number of insurance and work-cover related medical certificates.

Initially MyHealthLink will be used by healthcare providers within the Auckland region which has recently confirmed that it will require all incoming referrals to be electronic from March 2017.  Already a number of dentists, allied healthcare providers and specialists have registered to use the new system, in readiness for moving their referral processes from paper-based to electronic, ahead of the March deadline. In the first week since the service launch was announced more than 50 organisations applied to use the service and are currently going through an ‘on-boarding’ process.

HealthLink’s objective is to transfer entire healthcare regions from using paper based processes to fully electronic ones.  The technology is now there to make that change but completely transforming important processes such as referrals from paper based to electronic requires a disciplined approach.  Success is also dependent upon highly effective teamwork between the key healthcare provider organisations and their technology partners.

“Achieving total, system-wide transition is what HealthLink is about.  That is where we are positioning ourselves.  Our customers are telling us that they don’t want a partially electronic solution, they want to transform their region fully.
MyHealthLink is an important tool for achieving complete end-to-end regional transformation.”

About HealthLink:

HealthLink is an electronic communications and integration service that is used by all of the organisations within the health sector to exchange electronic patient information via their computer systems. HealthLink’s core focus is on ensuring that electronic communication processes are put in place to give patients certainty that their information has been appropriately handled. HealthLink is used by more than 13,500 medical practices across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific region. The company has offices in Auckland, Brisbane, Townsville, Sydney and Wollongong. HealthLink has a growing presence in every Australian State and territory as well as an almost complete coverage of the New Zealand health sector. For more information contact or see

Hospital group criticised for emailing health information

Partners, at Boston-based Partners HealthCare System, USA, should have known better than to allow employees to send sensitive patient data via email, experts said in the wake of yet another healthcare data breach, and should have responded faster when the breach was discovered. – Read the full article here.