Accessing your personal electronic health record via an online portal in 2012 will be just like using online banking, according to Health Minister Nicola Roxon.
"The actual design is still to be developed but the easiest way to think of this is to think about online banking, with clear information like allergies and medications upfront," she said during an online chat on The Australian's website this afternoon. "But you control access and information is very secure."
Labor has allocated $466.7 million in this year's Federal budget to deliver e-health over the next two years. Earlier this year Roxon set the deadline for the portal to be ready by July 2012. She said today that a patient portal used by GP partners in Brisbane could be the prototype for the national system.
Earlier this week Roxon announced that GP Partners patients along with those of other healthcare providers in the Hunter Valley and Melbourne would be the first to try out the national e-health records because they were already trialling similar systems in their own clinics.
During the hour-long chat, Roxon also stressed there would be rules in place to determine how the technology to manage the e-health records would be used.
"With all new items for Medicare Rebates and for the new use of technology we always seek technical and clinical advice from doctors, the government's own Chief Medical Officer and external experts," she said. "Protocols will be in place to guide what it is appropriate to do on line and what is not."
Roxon also revealed that patients wishing to use the videoconferencing after hours GP service announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Monday would not be required to have an e-health record for the doctor to access prior to diagnosis.
"No patient will be forced to have an e-health record to access telehealth or other Medicare funded services," she said. "But ... having information about your health available to any doctor diagnosing your condition would be likely to assist that diagnosis."
(Front page image credit: Red Cross image by Rhona, CC BY-SA 2.0)