E-health records meet online deadline

E-health records meet online deadline

Summary: From 1 July, consumers wanting to take part in the government's e-health records scheme will have the ability to register online, despite fears to the contrary.

TOPICS: Health

From 1 July, consumers wanting to take part in the government's e-health records scheme will have the ability to register online, despite fears to the contrary.

After more than two years of development and over half a billion dollars worth of investment, the Federal Government will launch its personally controlled e-health record (PCEHR) system on 1 July. Last month, the government indicated the system would launch with a whimper rather than a bang, as patients will initially only be able to register for the records and add their own information through an online portal.

At the time, the government said it might struggle to meet the 1 July deadline for the online portal; however, the Department of Health and Ageing today said that, contrary to a report in The Australian, customers would be able to register online.

"From 1 July, consumers will be able to register online, through a Medicare shopfront or via phone, for a personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR)," the department said in a statement.

"The online portal will be available from 1 July 2012, so as soon as a person has signed up, they will be able to go online and view their record, and add a range of their basic health information."

Once in the portal, customers will be able to add emergency contact details, allergies, medication information and their own personal patient notes.

The ability to allow health practitioners to add information will start in September, the Department of Health and Ageing deputy secretary Rosemary Huxtable said last month.

"The next tranche of functionality is around provider registration, and the capacity for providers to upload clinical information. That will follow within a few months of 1 July," she said.

The government is expecting 500,000 people to register for the service in the next financial year.

Topic: Health


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • $500 million dollars and all we can do is add some basic information.
    What incentive will people have to sign up?Why will my life be better?
    I expect a lot more functionality and ability if I invested $500mil.
    Mal Jago
  • @Malbino - you didn't. You invested ~ $23. Each of our 22 million Australian citizens did, and they might want it, even if you don't.
    Also, when you're visiting another Australian city, and you're carking it in a hospital floor, it may be handy for the doctor to be able to get your medical records, i.e. that 'basic information' you just added. That might make your life better.
    • @ BennyD You missed the point . Australians of which I am a tax payer have indeed invested $500million is another potential dude! Whilst I agree having all my medical records on the NETHA would be ideal. The system wont have more than basic functionality, Doctors have not been involved in its design nor how that information would be loaded. Or indeed if it could. How would they capture medical history and not even consider people like you and me fortunate to have access to the web. I still stand by my comments that $500 million is a huge investment by Govenment who dont have a good track record of building projects of this nature.
      Could you name one? If the system could do all it should, and we should as a nation have such a system I will jump for joy.
      Mal Jago
  • What a joke.

    Opt in. Loading your own records. No facility for medical records, pathology, radiology results. A potted medical history is worse than none - a medical alert bracelet is more accurate and currently has better functionality.

    Nehta should be shut down.
  • Yep that's what happens when Civil libertarians and red tape bureaucrats get together..when they forced them to make it "opt in" that's when the concept died.

    Most doctors won't bother using it if the vast majority of patients actually aren't on it.

    Opt in for something as important as this is lunacy...but then again something has to keep the civil libertarians in a job..
  • Given that currently a lot of people receive medication to which they are allergic or incompatible with other medication they are taking, even basic information in this regard in the PCEHR will improve the quality of healthcare. Medical alert bracelets can do the same job if the patient wears it and if the patient is unconscious causing someone to look for it. But if the patient is sitting in front of a busy doctor and simply forgets to mention something when asked (or doesn't think it is relevant), then nobody goes looking for a medi-alert bracelet.

    I am concerned that all the scaremongering will delay both patients and providers from taking up the use of PCEHR, but personally I will be registering at the start of July and asking all of my doctors that I'd like them to contribute their summaries into the system - I can't force them, but I can at least stand up and be counted, or switch doctors. Personally if I avoid taking one inappropriate medication, it's well worth the $23 to me! And if one unnecessary duplicate diagnostic test is avoided, then unnecessary costs are avoided for both me, Medicare and my private health fund.

    Yes, we need to take seriously the privacy and security aspects of the system, but overall the system should deliver better cheaper healthcare, surely an important goal with our aging population.
  • I agree with Will20. An incomplete medical history is far more dangerous than none at all. Especially if we as patience don't know exactly how incomplete they are. I much prefer the notion of being responsible for my own medical records. I have scanned and kept copies of my own x-rays and hospital visits for years, which I believe is far more effective. I know what's missing. I know what's include. And I'm self motivated to keep myself fit and healthy
  • Josh, where is the announcement that online registration WILL be available after all from 1 July? I've looked on the health.gov.au and ehealth.gov.au websites and can find no announcement to this effect. I've registered my interest in the PCEHR and received an acknowledgement, but again no advice that I can register online from 1 July. One would expect that DoHA would want to publicize such excellent news, especially as a spokesperson was forced to hose down expectations only a few days earlier, saying that only telephone and in-person registration would be possible on day one.