Con­cern at dig­i­tal health records

Geraldton Guardian - - News - Tamra Carr

A Ger­ald­ton gen­eral prac­ti­tioner and Panaceum Group di­rec­tor says his med­i­cal or­gan­i­sa­tion holds con­cerns about se­cu­rity and use of per­sonal data, fol­low­ing the ex­pan­sion of dig­i­tal data­base My Health Record.

My Health Record is an on­line sum­mary of a pa­tient’s health his­tory which can be ac­cessed by doc­tors and other healthcare providers if a pa­tient chooses to share their records.

Australians will au­to­mat­i­cally have their health in­for­ma­tion up­loaded and stored on the data­base un­less they choose to opt out.

Dr Mur­ray James-Wal­lace said his prac­tice was pre­pared to put pa­tient in­for­ma­tion on the data­base if they asked for it.

“As pa­tients will have a record un­less they opt out, we as a prac­tice need to be pre­pared to sup­port pa­tients who wish to have their records on a dig­i­tal plat­form,” he said.

“We still hold con­cerns around the se­cu­rity of in­for­ma­tion and po­ten­tial uses of col­lected data in the fu­ture.

“We con­tinue to voice these con­cerns to the rel­e­vant de­part­ments.” For­mer Aus­tralian Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent and cur­rent chair­man of the My Health Record ex­pan­sion pro­gram, Dr Steve Ham­ble­ton, said the dig­i­tal health sys­tem was built with se­cu­rity in mind, and pa­tient in­for­ma­tion would not be used for com­mer­cial pur­poses.

He said res­i­dents in Ger­ald­ton would ben­e­fit greatly. “If you’re trav­el­ling to Perth from Ger­ald­ton to see a spe­cial­ist, and you’ve for­got­ten that lit­tle piece of pa­per which refers you, or you’re not sure which pills you take, whether it’s the blue one in the morn­ing, the yel­low one in the af­ter­noon and the red one at night, well, now that doesn’t mat­ter,” he said.

“All that in­for­ma­tion can be stored in My Health Record.

“It’s user-friendly for the el­derly and there’s been a spe­cial ef­fort to make it lan­guage-ap­pro­pri­ate for Abo­rig­i­nals and other groups.”

In the past five years, $1.5 bil­lion has been in­vested in the on­line sys­tem, which cur­rently has 5.4 mil­lion users in Aus­tralia, about 1,180,000 of whom are in WA.

Ac­cord­ing to the Aus­tralian Dig­i­tal Health Agency, about 17,000 records are cre­ated each week, more than 16,311,626 pre­scrip­tion and dis­pense records have been been put on the data­base, and about 10,683 healthcare providers are con­nected through the sys­tem.

Dr Ham­ble­ton said he hoped at least 90 per cent of the coun­try would use My Health Record by the end of the year.

“About 230,000 in Aus­tralia are hospitalised due to med­i­cal mis­ad­ven­ture, and that costs the tax­payer about $1.2 bil­lion,” he said.

“We hope to re­duce this se­verely by hav­ing ac­cu­rate med­i­ca­tion lists for peo­ple to cut back the rate of er­ror.

“It will im­prove the health sys­tem, too.

“By look­ing at the data, of course only with con­sul­ta­tion from the pub­lic, we can also tell things like which re­gions have high rates of a par­tic­u­lar dis­ease or con­di­tion.

“I think we’re on a thresh­old of some­thing re­ally im­por­tant, and we’ll look back on 2018 as a wa­ter­shed mo­ment for Aus­tralian health care.”

Dr Mur­ray James-Wal­lace.

Dr Steve Ham­ble­ton.

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