My Health Record Australia makes Electronic Health Records 'opt-out'

9 March 2016
Electronic Health Records have been around for a while – but have not been popular. The government has moved to significantly boost their numbers.

The ability ot have an electronic health record has been around for some time now – but not a great many Australians have taken up the option – less than 1 in 10. The federal government is moving towards making electronic health records an opt-out process rather than an opt-in process (meaning that you will need to advise that you don’t wish to automatically have an electronic health record as opposed to advising the you DO want one – this process is being trialled initially in Western Sydney and North Queensland).

The move coincides with the launch of the government’s revamped service. My Health Record will give both patients and health professionals immediate access to all of their necessary health information on-line to improve co-ordinated care outcomes, reduce duplication and provide vital information in emergency situations.

Minister for Health Sussan Ley said the Turnbull Government had particularly focussed on protecting patient privacy as part of the new My Health Record, passing supporting legislation mandating fines of up to half a million dollars and even jail sentences for anyone who tries to deliberately misuse or access information in the health record.

“It’s important Australians are able to have access to their medical records and safely and securely share them with health professionals no matter where they are in the country if we are to truly improve clinical outcomes and efficiency,” Ms Ley said.

“Our new My Health Record means people will not have to remember the names of the medications prescribed, details of diagnosis and treatments, allergies, medical procedures and there will be no need to repeat the same information when they see another doctor or go to hospital.

“I consider this a landmark turning point in improving our health system and bringing it into the 21st century.”

Ms Ley said that doctors have indicated they’re much more likely to use the system if all their patients have a record.

“We also need full national coverage if we’re to cut down on inefficiencies created by not having one seamless records system, such as double ups with testing, prescriptions and other procedures.”

Ms Ley said a life-saving “break-glass option” was included in the new My Health Record, allowing patients to have maximum security protections whilst also not having to worry about blocking access to their vital information in medical emergencies such as anaphylaxis, heart attacks, stroke or accidents where a patient is unconscious.

My Health Record is a step forward

The Consumers Health Forum has welcomes the electronic records enhancements, calling it an important step forward for Australia’s health.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said that the of the “opt out” approach to My Health Record, were a vital test of the eHealth system. The current policy has been to leave it up to individuals to sign on for the electronic patient record and that has resulted in a slow take-up.

“The virtue of the “opt out” approach in which people would be automatically enrolled unless they specifically decline, will be a faster development of a digital health record for Australians, delivering greater benefits to patients and doctors sooner,” Ms Wells said.

“We are well into the digital age in the way we go about other every day activities such as banking, telecommunications and online shopping. It is timely that we reap the benefits of the role that digital innovation can add to our health and care.”

“Patients and clinicians alike often complain about the breakdown in communication across health care teams and about the frustrations and time wasted in gathering the same information on repeat occasions. My Health Record is a key building block for a more effective, connected health system and a powerful vehicle for ensuring better linkage and coordination of care in the consumer’s interest” said Ms Wells.

The peak organisation for pharmacists, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA), has also welcomes the move.

PSA National President Joe Demarte said more patients needed to embrace electronic health and innovation to ensure health professionals can deliver better integrated care.

“As the most accessible of health professionals, pharmacists are an important resource that can and should be used to inform consumers about eHealth records with a view to ensuring this important health resource is fully utilised,” Mr Demarte said.

“We encourage more people to access eHealth to ensure consistency of treatment and better health outcomes for consumers regardless of where they seek treatment in Australia.”

Common questions about My Health Record

The government’s My Health Record website has answers to some common questions and concerns about online information, including:

  • How do I control who has access to My Health?
  • Can I see who has accessed My Health?
  • How can I access My Health?
  • What to do if I think my record has been compromised
  • What online security is in place for My Health?
  • Who is the system operator?
  • How secure is my child’s My Health record?
  • Who has control over my child’s My Health record?
  • How do I get more information about privacy?

Read this online resource for answers to these queries and further information.

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