Specialist letters are used in replying to a referral or reporting on a health event. They contain information related to the event or the requested diagnosis or treatment by a specialist.
When a specialist creates a specialist letter document it will be sent directly to the intended recipient, as per current practices. A copy may also be sent to the individual’s My Health Record.
Specialist letters in the Australian context
This product is a specialists’ clinical response to a general practice referrer, as recommended for use in Australian referral systems. Within this package this clinical response is known as the electronic specialist letter. The eHealth prescription record is an electronic representation of the legal prescription.
Context in digital health
The purpose of the specialist letter core product is to define the clinical content for a nationally-agreed response to a referral for exchange between healthcare providers in Australia. The specialist letter is a point-to-point communication that can be optionally shared with other participating providers.
Figure 1: High-level overview of clinical document delivery
These flows are described below:
- After receiving a referral the specialist consults with a patient and writes a specialist letter in their local system, as a response to the referrer.
- The authoring system converts the clinical information into a structured electronic document.
- Other healthcare providers, usually the patients’ primary healthcare provider, can view the specialist letter by downloading it from the My Health Record system or receiving the document directly from the specialist (point-to-point).
The Australian Digital Health Agency has provided the following specifications that apply to the specialist letter described above: