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DIGITAL HEALTH WILL BENEFIT PATIENT OUTCOMES

This week the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council reaffirmed their support for the embattled MyHealth Record legislation. MyHealth Record faced criticism last week when it was revealed that Australia’s who do not opt-out of the service could see their information provided to police or third-party government agencies without a court order.

The revelation sparked the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, to announced amendments to the legislation to assure Australians their records would not be readily available without the appropriate oversight.

The COAG Health Council unanimously endorsed the MyHealth Record legislation and the national opt-out approach.

In a joint statement COAG health ministers “reaffirmed their support of a national opt out approach to the MyHealth Record. Jurisdictions noted clinical advice about the benefits of MyHealth Record and expressed their strong support for MyHealth Record to support patient’s health. Ministers acknowledged some concerns in the community and noted actions proposed to provide community confidence, including strengthening privacy and security provisions of MyHealth Record.”

Speaking of the benefits of digital health for patients Australian Digital Health Agency CEO, Tim Kelsey, said “having a MyHealth Record means that your important health information such as allergies, current conditions and treatments, medicine details, and pathology and diagnostic imaging reports can be digitally stored in one place.”

“MyHealth Record also places Australians in control of their healthcare and gives authorised healthcare providers secure digital access to key health information at the point of care, wherever that may be,” Mr Kelsey said.

The Medical Technology Association of Australia (MTAA) CEO Mr Ian Burgess echoed many of the healthcare stakeholders who spoke in support of the My Health Record.

“With MyHealth Record looking to store medical device information digitally it’s an invaluable step in the right direction. Storing a minimum set of information (brand, model, serial number) will also support better and more effiicent post-market surveillance.

“MyHealth Record data is critical to the implementation of value-based healthcare in Australia at a national or jurisdictional level and is consistent with Government’s desire to contain healthcare costs and move to a patient-centric approach to healthcare,” Mr Burgess said.

The nursing profession will be a major beneficiary and this week the Australian College of Nursing CEO Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward indicated they have a major role in answering patient’s questions.

“Due to the role that nurses have as the interface of the health system, patients will turn to them to discuss participation in the initiative.

“Electronic health records will definitely improve clinical safety and ACN supports the introduction of My Health Record but protecting patient privacy is also a key priority for nurses, Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward said.”

Catholic Health Australia CEO Suzanne Greenwood this week called on all Australians to rationally consider the transformative benefits of the My Health Record to patient treatment, particularly in complex aged care.

“Some in our sector estimate up to 25 per cent efficiency gains through reduced duplication of pathology tests, better coordinated care, and treatment decisions, particularly in aged care where older Australians are more likely to suffer from complex co-morbidities,” Ms Greenwood said.

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