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Pharmacists told to get ready for Australia’s revolutionary new opt-out e-health record network

Pharmacists will need support and education to ensure their patients achieve the optimum benefit from Australia’s soon-to-be implemented opt-out My Health Record system.   

Australian Digital Health Agency CEO Tim Kelsey delivered his Your Health in Your Hands – the Digital Evolution of Health and Care in Australia speech at the National Press Club yesterday and outlined the collaboration needed between governments, consumers and clinicians to make data and technology work better for modern health.

In particular he discussed the importance of the pending shift to an opt-out e-health record and the role of each sector in making this work best to improve health care and decision making. 

Over time, an individual’s My Health Record will contain copies of key clinical documents, including private and public pathology and radiology reports, discharge summaries from public and private hospitals, information on medicines dispensed in the community and hospital pharmacy, shared health summaries from the GP.

“By the end of 2018 Australia will be the first country of its size to provide a mobile My Health Record to every citizen unless they choose to opt out – putting health in the palm of everybody’s hand,” Mr Kelsey said.

“If you have not opted out, then a My Health Record will be automatically created for you. Once a clinical professional or you activate it, it will start to populate with data – including the last two years of your Medicare Benefits Schedule and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme data.

Other information sources will only upload into your record as they happen, for example, when you see a GP or have a blood test. You can upload information yourself at any time, for example, an advance care plan or your emergency contact details,” he said.

Pharmacists will hopefully soon receive education and support to help them, and their patients, to transition to the new model.

Commenting on Mr Kelsey’s speech PSA national president Shane Jackson said for him the key message of the speech was to “focus on ensuring everybody knows they are in control of their health record.

“Your health is in your hands, not those of your GP or pharmacist,” he said. “You are in control of what happens with access to your record.”

This represents an important shift in messaging from DHA as we move closer to the switch to an opt-out model, Dr Jackson said.

He was hopeful that DHA would soon begin to provide education to help pharmacists talk to their network about the benefits of the system.

PSA has already introduced its Digital Health Guidelines, and these will be likely to be reviewed in 12 to 18 months as feedback and actual data and experience accumulate, he said.

“I don’t think pharmacy has ever been in a better position to administer My Health Record,” Dr Jackson said.    

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