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The role of the PHNs

This week I had the pleasure of spending 2 days with the Digital Health Primary Health Network (PHN) teams from all 31 PHNs across Australia.

One of many things that were shared were learnings from PHNs involved with Australia’s recent My Health Record trial sites (major report is being written right now) and in particular lessons relating to building the involvement of all sectors – pharmacy, aged care, specialists, allied health providers, hospitals and aboriginal medical services.

Over these two days it was wonderful to be joined by representatives of each of these sectors (+ Department of Health & Department of Human Services) to collaborate on how we can work together to provide support for health professionals.



With my role as contract trainer for the Australian Digital Health Agency it is my job to support PHNs and their practices.  I have delivered more than 60 ‘My Health Record’ presentations with PHNs for their practices this year across Australia. I have had the opportunity to witness how caring, committed and skilled the PHN staff are. The events we have run have brought me in front of more than 1600 healthcare providers.  This has also provided opportunities for important feedback – continual learnings that I share with the Digital Health Agency.

At Train IT Medical it is our role to provide software training and support to all those who work in health so we are now thrilled to be working with the Allied Health Professionals Association to help with software education and increasing use of digital health for their members.


The Digital Health Language

These past two days at the PHN/Australian Digital Health Event were, for me, a bit like being on my alien planet and all of sudden I was joined by 100 other friendly aliens who speak my exact language. We could talk of HPI-Os, Nash certificates, ETP, SMD etc like it was normal language.  We understand the challenges practices have faced to date and the challenges ahead. You cannot work directly with practices and not begin to understand the demands on health professionals. We share a wish list for improvements and there is much excitement for what we can all achieve in this digital era with a collaborative approach.

PHNs are there to support practices

I know many practices rely on their PHN ‘Practice Support Officer’ or ‘Liaison Officer’. Many others may not know what a PHN is (learn more here) or your location may mean you may not have had much direct contact to date.  I would encourage all healthcare practices to connect with the PHN in your area. Join the networking groups, attend education events, have your say.  Now is the time.

PHN staff are there to help; they can interpret the digital health language for you, they understand your world and will keep you up-to-date of important changes in an ever-changing health landscape.


To my alien friends in PHN land – I thank you for the wonderful work you are doing. It is an absolute pleasure to know you and work with you. It is so encouraging to see such collaboration between PHNs across Australia – learning and working together with shared goals of helping those who look after the health of Australians. You are doing a wonderful job in difficult times. I applaud you and support you.


With best wishes, Katrina Otto


2 Responses to The role of the PHNs

  • Dana Triffett says:

    I have been working in the opt out trial site in Mackay. I am relatively new to our NQ PHN from February. During this time I have learnt so much with engaging providers and with your knowledge and training particularly from your website. For me has been a very passionate journey to implement the MHR in our footprint. As part of the provider engagements your website has well received and appreciated as a great resource. Thank you for your continued support.
    Might see you again in the near future in our region.

  • Train IT Medical says:

    Your team up there in FNQ have done a wonderful job in the opt-out My Health Record trial and I can’t wait to read the final report. It must be nice for your practices now to have 98% of patients with a My Health Record – keep reminding them they are lucky as practices out of the trial areas do spend a bit of time now registering patients and often tell me they wish everyone already had a record. Thank you so much for your kind feedback about my services, it’s been my pleasure to play a small role and I hope to work with you again in 2017. Best wishes, Katrina

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