Introduced in Australia in 2012, the e-health record was established to provide doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers with a digital summary of your personal medical history. Despite the scheme costing more than $1 billion to set up, only one in 10, or around 2.5 million Australians had an e-health record this time last year. So, should you get one? Here’s what you need to know.
Who can access your information?
My Health Record is an opt-in service designed to give doctors, hospitals, physiotherapists, nurses and other health professionals access to essential information in order to provide Australians with the best possible care. You can control what goes into it and who can access it.
What are the benefits?
My Health Record is convenient for you and for your doctor, as it can be viewed securely anywhere and anytime, including if you travel or move interstate. If you have an internet connection, you can access your health information. This means you won’t have to remember details about your medical history, such as immunisation dates and medical test results. Having an e-health record adds a layer of safety to your treatment, since it allows healthcare providers to quickly access your medical information and provide the best possible care. Information about allergies, adverse reactions and medical conditions means you’ll receive better advice and treatment. The e-health record doesn’t replace existing records about your medical information. Doctors will still be able to keep their own notes.
Is it secure?
Strict regulations about who can view your My Health Record means your health information is protected from misuse or loss. In March last year, former Health Minister Sussan Ley said the Government was particularly focused on protecting patient privacy. Patients have ultimate control over who accesses their information, including adding extra password protections. You’ll also be able to prevent access to specific GPs or hospitals, view every person who has opened the record, and delete unwanted files. Fines of up to half a million dollars and even jail sentences apply to anyone who deliberately misuses or wrongfully accesses information in the health record.
What’s included in your My Health Record?
Your e-health record can include:
- a doctor’s written record
- prescribed medicines
- specialist and referral documents
- allergies and adverse reactions
- immunisation history
- diagnostic imaging reports (such as ultrasound or x-ray results)
- pathology results (like blood tests)
- hospital admittance and discharge information
- Medicare claims history
- Indigenous, veteran and Australian defence force status
- decisions about organ donation
- requests about your healthcare if you become too unwell to communicate (e.g. a ‘living will’ or ‘advanced care planning’ documents)
- emergency contact details.
How to register
You can sign up for your e-health record:
- online via the My Health Record website
- over the phone by calling 1800 723 471 (option 1)
- in person at a Medicare service centre
- by filling in a registration form, available from a Medicare service centre
- by asking your healthcare provider to assist you.