As the chatter grows over whether you should let the Government store all your personal medical information in the cloud, many voices have been raised in support of the My Health Record (MHR).
Among peak bodies to have thrown their weight behind the MHR platform are the Consumers Health Forum, Palliative Care Australia, Aged and Community Services Australia, Leading Age Services Australia and Carers Australia.
Also applauding the platform is health policy Professor Jim Gillespie, of Sydney University, who says the My Health Record is a “step towards empowering patients”.
Writing in The Conversation, Prof. Gillespie said most critics of the platform cite cyber security risks. However, he points out that during the five years that the MHR’s precursor – the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record system (PCEHR) – has been operational, no breaches have been reported.
“Rather, examples (of breaches) are often drawn from commercial operations which have succumbed to the temptation to commercialise data – an offence that could lead to prison under MHR,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Consumers Health Forum (CHF) says the advantages of a single electronic databank such as My Health Record (MHR) are significant, particularly for those with complex and chronic conditions and the elderly.
“MHR will provide a single repository for people’s medical records, housing details such as their medical treatments, current medications, tests, scans, allergies, immunisations and referrals and their end of life wishes,” explained CHF chief executive Leanne Wells.
“It will enable authorised health providers anywhere in Australia to see (a patient’s) record, facilitating prompt attention and avoiding the need for repetition of your health history and duplication of results. Importantly, individuals will be able to control what parts of their health record can be viewed by health providers.”
It has been argued that in an emergency, information on MHR could save a person’s life.
“What is important to keep in mind is that MHR offers to healthcare the potential for the sort of digital benefits we take for granted now in virtually every other area of modern life: instant and comprehensive communication of information,” she said.
While Ms Wells said concerns about the security of personal health information are to be expected, she added that the Government and the Australian Digital Health Agency had instituted systems to protect patient privacy.
“It is important that people do not regard MHR as an imposition. Rather, the arrival of personal electronic health records offers every individual a fresh opportunity to have greater control and awareness of their healthcare.”
Palliative Care Australia (PCA) believes MHR will allow health professionals to provide faster and more efficient care for people and their families.
PCA chief executive Liz Callaghan said: “People accessing palliative care services often have complex needs and their multidisciplinary care team may be located across many sites. The care team often comprises doctors, pharmacists, nurses and allied health professionals. MHR makes it easier for those professionals to share information about medications, test results and care plans.”
Aged and Community Services Australia chief executive Pat Sparrow believes MHR is good news for older Australians, as well as aged-care facilities and their staff, carers and family members.
“Older Australians need to be supported in healthy ageing and this streamlined approach to information sharing promises to improve the flow of information from hospital to home to residential aged care and ultimately contribute to the quality of care for an individual,” Ms Sparrow said.
Leading Age Services Australia chief executive Sean Rooney agreed, adding integrated information would especially benefit those in residential aged care.
“By enabling information sharing between the various parts of the Australian health system, digital health has the potential to enable programs and initiatives that integrate care, wrapping it around the needs of patients,” he said.
Carers Australia chief executive Ara Cresswell said the platform would make carers’ jobs easier and delivery of care safer.
“It can lessen the stress of having to remember details of the diagnoses and treatments of others, and help prevent adverse medication events,” she said.
“The ability to upload a patient’s end-of-life preferences can also lessen the distress of those forced into making very difficult decisions on behalf of a family member not able to communicate their own wishes.”
Do you believe My Health Record would be a convenient way to store and share your personal medical information? Are you already signed up to the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record, and if so, has it been useful in any treatment you have received?