On the record


Pharmacy’s contribution to the uptake of My Health Record revealed to Parliament

The impact of the new My Health Record program to health care has been graphically illustrated in testimony presented to the current Senate Estimates hearings.

And even the Australian Journal of Pharmacy garnered a mention as Senators discussed the uptake of the system and what it is bringing to the table in terms of health benefits.

Tim Kelsey, CEO of the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) outlined anecdotal evidence of how the MHR had proven its worth during the recent North Queensland flooding.

“We have put in place a benefits realisation program to evaluate benefits of My Health Record
both currently, before opt-out had finished, and obviously subsequently,” he said.

“We are already beginning to see significant evidence of those benefits. If I may take advantage of a recent report from the Townsville floods, where pharmacists have been working with emergency services to ensure that people have contingency of medicine during what has been a very difficult period for those communities.

“I would like to read out a quote from the Australian Journal of Pharmacy from a pharmacist reporting on some of the challenges they have had following the floods: ‘The biggest problem for pharmacists is people being cut off from their home pharmacies, so they’re presenting at whatever pharmacies are open without much knowledge of their medicines and without their prescriptions.

“‘At the moment, My Health Record is absolutely shining. The doctors are loving it, the nurses are
loving it. The traditional relationships between GPs and patients don’t really exist at the moment, so everyone is trying to help each other, and My Health Record is able to provide a consistent medication profile,'” Mr Kelsey said.

“I give that as an instance of My Health Record in action currently supporting those local communities”.

Bettina McMahon, Chief Operating Officer, Government and Industry Collaboration and Adoption
Division, for ADHA said the agency had a number of qualitative and quantitative studies and other research projects in place.

“We are already seeing benefits being realised around improved medication management, improved decision making, reduction in adverse events and savings in time in collecting medical information at the point of care,” she said.

Mr Kelsey also reminded Senators that the program had been supported by most “key clinical leadership peak bodies of Australia and consumer peak bodies supported opt-out because the evidence from the Northern Territory, where electronic records are ubiquitously used in treatment of local communities, was that if most people had one and that was the assumption the clinician made, they would build that into the workflow and in that way benefit would be realised”.

“On that basis the clinical peak bodies, including the Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, as well as the Pharmacy Guild, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and the Consumers Health Forum, asked government to consider moving to opt-out registration so those benefits could be realised for all Australians, and they remain very supportive of that method of public registration.”

The first day of the Senate Community Affairs Committee’s hearing also saw discussion over the process for listing new medicines on the PBS, in particular around the length of time it currently takes between PBAC recommendation and agreement on price.

Department officials had to take on notice questions about the average listing time as there is currently no key activity indicator or KPI on the length of this process.

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