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05 Oct 2018

In order to restore public confidence in My Health Record, it is critical that privacy issues are addressed.

That was one take home message the AMA has provided the Government in its submission to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee Inquiry into the My Health Record System.

The submission noted, however, that the additional privacy protections set out in the proposed My Health Records Amendment (Strengthening Privacy) Bill 2018, go a long way towards achieving this.

This comes as a direct result of AMA President Dr Tony Bartone securing a commitment from Health Minister Greg Hunt to fix the privacy concerns.

The Bill substantially reduces any discretion that the My Health Record System Operator has to disclose health information in the My Health Record. The limits are substantially tighter than the controls that apply under the Commonwealth’s Privacy Act 1988 to patient data stored in the clinician’s own patient records.

The AMA would like My Health Record to succeed because the clinical benefits are considerable, and it has the capacity to save lives. But the system will need to be continually improved.

The AMA’s submission notes the strengths of the system and points to potential benefits of My Health Record.

“Treating clinicians need to have access to a detailed and accurate clinical patient history to provide the best possible care,” the submission states.

“The siloed nature of the Australian healthcare system and the localised storage of patient records in their doctor’s own patient records, compromises the flow of patient information between healthcare settings, and between healthcare practitioners.

“Many of the greatest failures in patient care and safety result when patients are required to move across the health system, but their clinical information does not follow them.

“The My Health Record has the potential to circumvent these limitations to ensure clinically important patient information is available at the point of care, irrespective of the health care setting and the location of the treating doctor.

“The result is better connected care, reduced medical harm from avoidable medication complications and allergic reactions. As the My Health Record matures, and patient participation levels increase, the record may also generate health system efficiencies by eliminating diagnostic and pathology tests currently duplicated because test results are not available to the treating doctor.

“Not only is duplication wasteful, it is detrimental to the patient as duplicated tests expose them to additional radiation from X-rays and CT Scans.”

Increased patient engagement in their own healthcare is another way the My Health Record can improve quality of care, according to the AMA.

Research indicates 40 to 80 per cent of medical information provided by healthcare practitioners is forgotten immediately by patients.

“If patients have access to their clinical data in their My Health Record, they are more likely to understand their health conditions, adhere to treatment advice and engage more actively with their treating clinicians in their ongoing care,” the submission states.

“This will also assist in increasing overall patient health literacy, which will improve long-term health outcomes and indeed improve prevention and education activities.”

The AMA also points out that inclusion of patient nominated advanced care planning documents in the My Health Record increases the likelihood emergency treatments will align with patient preference if they have lost the ability to speak for themselves, or have lost decision-making capacity.

“If the benefits of My Health Record are to be fully realised, the My Health Record system will need to become self-sustaining,” the submission states.

CHRIS JOHNSON

The AMA’s submission can be found at: https://ama.com.au/submission/ama-submission-senate-community-affairs-references-committee-inquiry-my-health-record.

 

 


Published: 05 Oct 2018