Residents of Brisbane, Melbourne and the Hunter Valley will be the very first to get electronic health records, Health Minister Nicola Roxon has announced today.
"This is an important step forward in allowing online access to health records for each Australian that chooses to," Roxon said in a statement. "Patients will control what goes onto their record and who can access their information."
"This builds on the Prime Minister's announcement yesterday that Medicare rebates will be provided for online consultations across a range of specialities for the first time," she added.
According to Roxon, GPpartners in Queensland, GP Access in New South Wales, and Melbourne East GP Network in Victoria were chosen for the roll-out, as they already had e-health technology available.
The government has outlined $12.5 million in funding for the three sites, which comes from the $466.7 million investment the Federal Government outlined in this year's budget.
The Queensland Government has also committed to providing GPpartners with $1.2 million in funding, while the New South Wales Government has promised to chip in $1.2 million to the roll-out. NSW will work to integrate its Healthelink pilot program with the National E-Health Transition Authority's national roll-out.
The e-health records are a voluntary service for patients and will utilise the healthcare identifiers allocated to every Australian citizen, healthcare provider and hospital on 1 July 2010.
The Coalition has indicated that if it wins government on 21 August, it would review Labor's funding allocation to e-health to see if it was being "most efficiently spent".
Roxon indicated that if Labor wins the election on Saturday, the government would call for expressions of interest on further release sites. The government has set a deadline of July 2012 for all Australians to have access to a personal electronic health record via an online portal.