Home' Australian Pharmacist : January 2011 Contents Vol. 30 -- January #01
Information is power: Roxon
'Over time I want to increase the range
of information available to consumers
-- for example I am keen on hospital
acquired infection rates being available.
I will be discussing the expansion of
the site with the states and territories --
but in the context of these discussions,
I would be interested in any ideas or
input that the Forum has and what is
most valuable for consumers.
Another valuable initiative was the
overhaul and relaunch of the private
health insurance website where
consumers can punch in their needs
and be presented with a comparison
of products and prices to choose from.
'This is an example of how we want
to make it easier for the consumer
to navigate their way through the
' she said.
'Imagine the patient journey for
someone with diabetes and how many
interactions with the health system
they have. How many times they are
forced to tell the same story to a GP, a
medical specialist, dietician, podiatrist,
eye specialist, perhaps a physiotherapist
-- each time repeating their symptoms
and their treatment history?
'Perhaps this is even worse than
navigating through a bank's overseas
call centre. In comparison, your banking
is simple -- but even that you can now
do online -- accessing your records and
conducting transactions securely.
'We need to step into the world of
technology in health care as well.
That's why the creation of ehealth
records for all Australians who want
them will be so groundbreaking.
The benefits of ehealth records
'Patients won't have to continuously
tell their medical history to every
new health professional that they
see. Patients won't have to try and
remember when they were sick, when
they took which antibiotics or what
their last pathology test showed,
'With patient permission, each health
professional will be able to see the
patient's history allowing for quicker
and more accurate diagnosis. It
will also cut down on errors as any
medical issues such as allergies and
reactions are immediately apparent to
a new clinician.
'Medication errors currently account
for 190,000 admissions to hospitals
each year -- a number that is far too
high and that we are determined to
reduce. We will be saving time and
money and reducing medical errors.
'The ehealth record will also be a
tangible sign of the health system
following the patient, not the other
way around. In fact, we are making
technology work for the patient.
Consumers and their views had for too
long been excluded as part of the health
debate, the Minister for Health and
Ageing, Nicola Roxon, said in Canberra.
Speaking at the Consumers Health
Forum annual general meeting in
late November, Ms Roxon told of
the 'slightly odd experience when I
first became the health minister ...
consumers, and their perspectives,
were far too hard to see and find'.
But Ms Roxon said all that was now
changing because of the determination
of the Government to bring consumers
into their rightful place.
'But also because of the growing
influential role you are playing in
advocating for the rights, concerns
and wishes of consumers,
' she said.
'One of the things that has amazed
me is how little information is made
available in a simple format for the
consumer. If you want to know where
you can get an orthopaedic procedure
done and how long it will take, it's
virtually impossible to find out.
'I want to make it easier for the
person waiting for a hip replacement
or a gall bladder operation to know
their options. It's not secret business,
it should be a right.
'Information is power -- it allows you
to manage your own health better.
Ms Roxon said the MyHospitals
website was therefore the start of
something so important.
'For the first time, there will be a
nationally consistent record of how
hospitals are performing. In its early
days, it won't be comprehensive -- its
focus will be on services available,
elective surgery times and emergency
' she said.
'Now if you are waiting for an
operation you will be able to look
at one website which will give you
the information to be able to ask
questions and make decisions about
your care. It will also give you an
insight into the performance of your
hospital and if it falls below the
standard, allow you to demand better.
'There will be more health
information at your fingertips --
to help you manage your own health
better and know more about your
local health services.
Warwick Plunkett and Minister Roxon at a PSA Board Dinner last year.
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