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Improvements already being facilitated by My Health Record, Department of Health claims, as opt-ins start to equal opt-outs

The My Health Record program is already starting to make a “meaningful impact” on Australian healthcare, Department of Health officials are claiming.

Speaking at the Senate Estimates Community Affairs Committee hearing in Canberra late last week, Tim Kelsey, CEO of the Australian Digital Health Agency, hailed early examples of the programs success.

“Obviously it’s early days but we are seeing very clearly from the clinical front-line very meaningful impact being achieved, particularly through access to medicines information.

For example, in Royal Perth Hospital the toxicology department and the emergency department now mandate the use of My Health Record when it is triaging patients with suspected overdoses or other poison incidents so that their previous history of medication, and particularly those that have been dispensed, can be ascertained by emergency staff,” he said.

“Obviously out of hospital clinical staff are beginning to really value access to this kind of critical information at the point of care”.

‘What we’re hearing is a range of improvements that are being facilitated, which range from, frankly, outcomes being improved in the emergency department because for the first time emergency physicians
can see what medicines have been dispensed to a person, right through to just better coordination of care in the out of hospital environment,” he said.

The MHR is beginning to win over health care users too, the Department believes. Their latest figures show that 23,528 people had chosen to opt out of the system since 22 February 2019, but over the same period 22,129 people had opted back in.

Previous Senate Estimates hearings had been informed that 2.5 million Australians had chosen to opt out of the system.

Mr Kesley said specialists would be the focus of MHR activity in this current financial year. 

“Over the last three years of the agency’s operation we’ve focused initially on general practice, public and private hospitals, pathology sector and pharmacy. This financial year we’ve started focusing on
specialists.

“Currently almost all public hospital services are connected to My Health Record,” he said. “We have now got to a point where well over 80 per cent of community pharmacies for the first time in Australia
are uploading dispense medicine information from the My Health Record”.

“We have got the vast majority of public pathology and radiology services uploading to the My Health Record and a very significant proportion of private radiology and pathology services uploading”.

Mr Kelsey also defended the program safety, saying there had been “on instances of security breach of the My Health Record, but at the same time of course, there is absolutely no complacency.”

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