Is eHealth for you?

What will eHealth mean for your personal medical information?

Each year the average Australia has around 22 interactions with healthcare professionals, which includes GP visits, dentist appointments and trips to the pharmacy. To ensure that all relevant medical information can be shared to enable continuous care, the Australian Government has introduced an eHealth system. From 1 July 2012 individuals have been able to register for this service, but what will it mean for your personal medical information?

Firstly, you need to apply for your eHealth record, as it is not compulsory to have one. So if you don’t like the look of the system, you don’t have to opt in as yet.

You can apply for an eHealth record by visiting Once your personal eHealth record is active, you can upload information about your allergies and medication, which may help healthcare professionals to provide better medical assistance. There is also a section where you can input details of exercise, diet and even blood pressure and while this won’t be shared with healthcare professionals, it will give you an overview of your own health.

You are in control of who sees your eHealth record and can even choose which information is available to each healthcare professional you encounter. Details of anyone who has accessed your record, and notes they have made, will also be visible to you.

An eHealth record is designed to give you more control over your own healthcare. The more people you share this information with, the better care you should receive. You will also be able to be more involved in the decisions surrounding your care.

If you need a little more information before you register for an eHealth record, you can visit the interactive eHealth Learning Centre.

Of course, eHealth records are just one phase of using technology to improve access to healthcare. eHealth also covers consultations with health professionals via the internet, from the comfort of your own home. Find out more about how eHealth technology works


    To make a comment, please register or login
    27th Jul 2012
    I do hope this is not the thin edge of the wedge which in due course will become compulsory.

    The problem I see at the moment if your GP operates on the system, which you do not wish to join, then you may find yourself looking for a new GP.
    28th Jul 2012
    Abby, I spent 8 years of my working life trying to convince Doctors to use technology this included the introduction of an eHealth record. It has many benefits for you. For instance if you have a car or other accident in Perth and you are from Sydney and all your health records are in a Dr's system in Sydney the Perth Doctors are working "blind" since they do not know any history. This would not be the case if you have an eHealth record.

    Another major issue is that the system is very secure. At the moment the security of your information in a GP's electronic system is not very good at all. Audits of GP's IT systems, and most use them these days, have show that they are very vulnerable to "hacking" and unauthorised access.

    I would think very carefully about the benefits to you and your doctors from using an ehealth record.
    28th Jul 2012
    I carry my own health card on my person and cannot see any purpose for wasting health money to invade individuals' privacy.

    If I get to the stage where I am unable to look after my own health card I definitely do not want anybody saving me.
    28th Jul 2012
    This system is both advantageous as well as disadvantaguous. The advantage of universal access in case of emergency but the disadvantage of invasion of privacy. As with all new technology it is open to anyone who has the knack of using e-technology. So no matter how anyone says you are in control of who can access your record, there is no such thing. Bank records and credit cards are not even safe.
    28th Jul 2012
    To respond to Abby - what health card are you talking about? If you mean your Medicare Card then it is irrelevant, the Medicare card has no integrity or security at all. There are approximately 2.5 million more Medicare Cards in the system than there are people in Australia (including children). The Medicare system is antiquate technology and I reiterate my comments re GP and other Dr's IT systems in regard to unauthorised access.

    To others - the comments so far show a lack of knowledge of the security systems available.

    You should ask what security system they are using. When I was involved we advocated the use of PKI (Public Key Infrastructure). This was the only ICT security system approved by the DSD (Defence Signals Directorate) known as Australia's "Secret Squirrel's". They are the experts in electronic surveillance and spying. Banks and other commercial interests are not using it because it is not convenient and imposes restrictions on those using it.

    My major concern is that the system is not "Health Provider Specific" by this I mean that I cannot restrict access to my record to an individual health provider, only to an organisation, This means that if a Cardiologist is part of an organisation that I give access to then he can also access all my records regardless of the classification. That is a real problem since a Obs/Gyn specialist need not necessarily need information regarding any mental health from a Psychological view without the patients consent and vice a versa. Access to information should be Health Provider specific.

    The issues and permutations are endless and that is one of the reasons I suffered "burnout" and retired to the country to grow organic vegies and cattle.

    I am still a believer in eHealth but with appropriate safeguards and controls at the patient level.
    28th Jul 2012
    It is a card that I made and update myself and keep on my person.

    Make sure you are not in a state where they use Biosolids for fertilizer in a flood prone area as your eHealth will not supply the necessary information if you get infected.

    Other wise enjoy your life in the country.
    28th Jul 2012
    Is it an electronic card?

    If so how do you encrypt the data on it?'
    There are not many cards available that can have inbuilt electronic chips that can contain very much data.
    29th Jul 2012
    I use pen and paper for history and med. Xrays etc go on a USB keytag
    28th Jul 2012
    There is no such thing as secure system. Even Pentagon was hacked. there are so many e-literate persons who can decode encrypted data.

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