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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.

Specialist Letter Diagram

Figure 1: High-level overview of clinical document delivery

These flows are described below:

  1. 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.
  2. The authoring system converts the clinical information into a structured electronic document.
  3. 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).


Feature specifications

The Australian Digital Health Agency has provided the following specifications that apply to the specialist letter described above:

Related specifications


September, 2014
This version of the specialist letter end product introduces a variation of requirements for inclusion of HPI-I and HPI-O.
August, 2014
This incremental release of the specialist letter end product introduces the template package library as a new product component.
October, 2013
This release of the specialist letter end product introduces updates to the PCEHR conformance profile for specialist letter documents.
May, 2012
An updated version of the conformance profile document is being released to address a corruption caused during its conversion to a PDF. The updated version of this document contains no material changes.