Dr Anita, GPpartners
Progress towards a national system of electronic health records took a big step forward earlier this month with the announcement of nine new sites around Australia, including another two in Brisbane, which will be contracted to run system testing.
The Brisbane ‘Lead Implementation Sites’, as they are known, now include both north and south Brisbane and the maternity unit at the Mater Hospital.
Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon called Brisbane an ‘e-health super-site’, saying it was exciting news for patients because thousands of Queenslanders would be able to sign up for e-health records over the next 12 months.
When fully operational, the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) system will allow health consumers to access their medical history online, boost patient safety, improve healthcare delivery, and cut waste and duplication.
Many medical professionals already use electronic systems for storing patient data, but the big difference with the PCEHR system is that it will allow that data to be securely shared between health providers of the patient’s choosing. This means that patients will no longer have to repeat their medical history to each provider they visit.
Whether the patient is a resident of an aged care facility or a new mother visiting her GP, their medical details will be available to their health provider via a simple online portal.
The PCEHR system will store key information – such things as medication lists, diagnoses and allergies – as an electronic summary linked to a single number, known as an Individual Healthcare Identifier. Other information could also be uploaded, like scans of test results, but the most critical information will available at a glance.
While it is still early days for the PCEHR, enthusiasm for the program within the health-IT sector is encouraging. The Federal Health Department received more than 90 responses to its call for PCEHR applications, from which the successful nine projects were selected. This has brought the total in progress to 12.
Among these are the three closely aligned Brisbane projects – creating an e-health super-site – which is set to transform health care delivery across the region.