At the launch of the government's two-day e-health conference in Melbourne, Health Minister Nicola Roxon unveiled an iPhone application that will enable doctors to access a patient's medical history through e-health records.
The app is still in the development stage, but a demonstration of the app at the conference showed that doctors would be able to access a patient's e-health record. The record could potentially contain information such as x-ray results or allergy details, depending on what the patient chose to provide.
Roxon said patients would ultimately control what went into their health record and who could access that information.
"Allowing doctors instant access to a patient's health record will mean that any conditions such as allergies can be quickly discovered and that can save lives," she said. "E-health will have great benefits, take for example the case of a young mother whose two children suffer from asthma, she would have their medication history at her fingertips which means that if the children were to be hospitalised with an attack, the emergency department teams won't be working blind — they will be able to know the history and current drug treatments."
Roxon said that the passage of the Telstra split Bill is a stimulus for the government's $466.7 million e-health initiatives because it allows the NBN roll-out to continue with the participation of Telstra.
"I think [it] is a shot in the arm for what can be achieved in e-health into the future," Roxon told reporters after addressing the conference in Melbourne.
"Some of the [e-health] initiatives don't depend on the National Broadband Network, but they will be greatly enhanced and the innovation for the future will be very significantly enhanced when you tie it together with the National Broadband Network."
The government also used the conference to call for submissions on the delivery of its telehealth services; it is spending $350 million to support online specialist consultations for people in rural, remote and outer metropolitan areas.
The telehealth discussion paper can be viewed here (PDF).