MHR helps pharmacist in bushfire zone


Bushfires hit houses on the south coast of NSW. Photo: Mark Naunton/Supplied.

Nearly 13 million My Health Records are now active after 490,000 new records had documents uploaded – in just one month

And the records have proven invaluable to one pharmacist who was helping people in this summer’s disastrous NSW bushfires, says the Australian Digital Health Agency.

The Agency reports that the total number of records which contain information was nearing 13 million by the end of December 2019, up from 12.5 million in November.

Between November and December 2019 there was an 11% increase in the volume of medicine documents uploaded by health care providers including pharmacists and GPs, to more than 100 million documents.

There was also a 13% increase in clinical documents uploaded by health care providers including hospitals, pathologists and radiologists.

In December alone, GPs uploaded nearly 3 million documents and their viewing increased 10%.

The total number of documents in the My Health Record system is now 1.7 billion.

“While it was not expected that all My Health Records would have documents uploaded in the first year as not everyone would see a GP or other connected healthcare provider service in that timeframe, we are now seeing significant increases in uploaded clinical documents and My Health Records with valuable clinical information,” said Professor Meredith Makeham, the Agency’s Chief Medical Officer.

The Agency cited the experience of Paul Smith, a pharmacist at Capital Chemist in Huskisson NSW.

Mr Smith said he was able to dispense medications to both locals, and visitors who had been trapped in town by bushfires.

“In the lead up to New Year’s Eve, Huskisson and surrounding towns in NSW had an unusually large number of travellers and locals seemingly stranded without their prescriptions or regular medications,” Mr Smith said.

“These medications included your run-of-the-mill blood pressure tablets and the like, but there were patients without their insulin, anti-epileptic medications, anti-depressants, preventative asthma inhalers, and numerous others.

“Having access to the My Health Record database certainly helped me a great deal during this unprecedented time, as I was able to ensure a continuity of care in a safe and legal fashion.

“The main hurdle I faced was assisting patients who had chosen to opt out of the My Health Record system.

“It is an extremely bad situation to be in when there were no local surgeries open, the roads to the closest public hospital were closed, and the person had nothing to show you that they are normally prescribed.”

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