Feds spend $485 million to boost My Health initiative


Australian government earmarks $485 million on fully-integrated e-health record-keeping. 

The Australian government has allocated more than $485 million to tighten its e-health record-keeping program, and sign up more people to this on-line service. Among the initiatives, trials are planned to create another one million e-health records covering residents in Western Sydney and Northern Queensland.

Around one million individuals living in the trial locations (Nepean Blue Mountains and Northern Queensland) will get a My Health Record automatically created by mid-June 2016. These records are being created routinely unless residents alert the administration that they don’t want one. People have up until 27th May to make a final decision.

Federal Minister for Health, Susan Ley, says an expanded My Health initiative enables patients and health professionals to gain immediate access to health information. Canberra is targeting massive annual savings by ramping up the numbers joining the online My Health program. This was previously called the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR). 

By 2020, there are plans to deliver ‘value for healthcare,’ while offering better and more secure online access system for patients, healthcare providers, GPs, and care givers. Expanded online channels help reduce duplication across the public and private healthcare system.

Presently, 2.6 million Australians already have an e-record under the PCEHR. This membership is slated to grow to 3.6 million. This growth stems from upcoming trials and broader incentives for healthcare providers. There are nearly 8,000 healthcare providers currently registered to use the e-record system. An upgraded My Health Record seamlessly connects with GP and hospital systems. 

Data sharing arrangements

Among the added features, there is a re-designed user interface and easier-to-navigate online platform. New GP training and incentives are being offered, together with tighter privacy controls. These include password protection, and ‘lock-down’ access to specific GPs or hospitals. New criminal penalties apply for deliberate misuse of online data. There are fines of up to half a million dollars per breach for deliberate misuse or access

The administration estimates that if all Australians signed up to a functioning My Health Record, this could save 5,000 lives per year. This participation could also avoid 2 million primary care and outpatient visits, 500,000 emergency department visits, and nearly 310,000 admissions to hospitals.

An integrated My Health Record means people will not have to remember the names of medications prescribed or details involving diagnosis. They also forego having to recall treatments, allergies, or medical procedures. 

Both patients and medical practitioners can enter the data. People may top up their e-record with emergency contact details, allergy information and any previous adverse reactions. Individuals can elect to have Medicare information added (under the Medicare Benefits Schedule and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme). 

This information is stored by the Department of Human Services. It includes Medicare and Pharmaceutical Benefits claims information, childhood Immunisations, or organ donation decisions. Authorised healthcare provider organisations can add clinical documents about an individual’s health. This includes a shared health summary, hospital discharge summaries, diagnostic imaging reports, or prescribed and dispensed medications. 

Other data incorporates specialist and referral documents. Healthcare providers can share data through any clinical information software or patient administration systems. These need to be connected to the My Health Record.

Canberra earlier released a report that reviewed the My Health Record or former PCEHR. The review examined concerns involving the progress around e-health record-keeping. Key recommendations sought to make this system more functional and usable, while delivering expected benefits over a shorter time frame.

Details about this report can be sourced at a designated site.