The Australian Government is launching eHealth records for all Australians today. The system allows individuals to opt-in to having their health records transitioned into a centralized health system. In consultation with your GP and other health care providers, relevant health records can be shared through the system.
Today every Australian has been allocated an Individual Health Indicator (IHI). Essentially this will sit dormant unless you opt into the system. If you do register for the eHealth system, you will receive a Personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR). The next time you meet with your doctor, you may get a referral to a specialist. Rather than having to manually take paperwork to them, the relevant information will be made available through the eHealth system to both you and the specialist.
This should have a number of benefits to those seeking healthcare. First off, it should eliminate the need to continually explain your situation to each health care professional you encounter, an incredibly frustrating experience. It should also avoid having to print out and carry around medical paperwork all while having visibility over the information shared.
The system has been a long time in the making and has been extremely costly to implement. $467Million to be exact. GPs are being financially incentivised to use the system. Unfortunately chemists won’t initially have access to the system directly, although this is planned for the future. This means you will still need to take prescriptions in hard copy to the chemist. The pharmacist will however get a barcode to scan which will automatically pull up the required medication, rather than manually entering each medication requested/distributed. This also removes issues around bad handwriting, something doctors are renowned for.
Overall it’s a good system in theory, taking medical care in Australia into the 21st century. Having medical information silo’d at each organisation you deal with, is completely impractical and out of date. It appears on the surface that the right privacy considerations have been made. It will be interesting to see how the adoption of eHealth in Australia plays out over the coming months and years.
The National eHealth Transition Authority has been charged with the responsibility of developing and implementing the new eHealth system. Despite the launch getting a lot of publicity, it was actually fairly difficult to track down the actual link to register for the program. To save you the trouble of hunting around the wide range of government health websites, you can simply register here – http://www.ehealth.gov.au/internet/ehealth/publishing.nsf/Content/register-form
It seems that while today is the launch day, that link still only registers your interest in using eHealth, not actually a registration to join the system. I’d suggest to the NETA add a big ‘Register Now’ button on the front page.
More information @ http://www.ehealthinfo.gov.au/