The Australian government introduced legislation on Thursday which will see its struggling personally controlled e-health record (PCEHR) system renamed and individuals automatically given an account.
PCEHR will now be known as My Health Record, and in a bid to boost recruits, the government wants to conduct trials which will see individuals automatically have an account created for them, which will require them to opt-out if they do not wish to continue with the online service.
If the trials are successful, the government will consider rolling out automatic accounts nationally.
The changes were announced today following a review that was commissioned by former Health Minister Peter Dutton in 2013, which, amongst 38 other items, recommended the e-health system be made opt-out.
At the time, it was noted the automatic account creation would only occur if the government changed the records to include demographics, current medications, adverse events, discharge summaries, and clinical measurements.
The recommendations came six months after the review was commissioned and also included renaming the system to the now donned My Health Record. At the time, the review said changing the name would "encourage more people to use the service".
The automatic creation of accounts was originally scheduled for January 1, 2015.
In last year's budget, the PCEHR system received AU$140.6 million in funding, with the platform pushing on in its current form whilst the government "worked on its response" to the review.
A year later, as part of its 2015-2016 Budget, the government announced it would inject a further AU$485 million into a "rebooted" PCEHR system, with the funding intended to see the rebranded e-health system go through "changes" that were not outlined at the time.
In May, Health Minister Sussan Ley said the billion-dollar PCEHR system set up by the former Labor government had seen less than one in 10 Australians sign up since its inception in 2012.
"In this modern world, where technology makes information sharing boundless, there's no excuse for Australia not to have a functioning national e-health system, and that's what the Abbott government's revamped myHealth Record aims to achieve," Ley said at the time.
"Doctors have indicated that they're much more likely to use the system if all their patients have a record. We also need full coverage if we're to cut down on inefficiencies created by not having one seamless records system, such as double ups with testing, prescriptions, and other procedures."
As part of the e-health system shakeup, harsher penalties will also be given to those who misuse the data on My Health Record, with people who intentionally breach someone's private medical records potentially slapped with civil or even criminal penalties.