Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist January 2014 Contents Australian Pharmacist January 2014 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
'Bite the bullet' on e-health
Australia should bite the bullet on
e-health and make joining the national
ehealth records system automatic for all
unless they choose to opt out, according
to the Consumer Health Forum (CHF).
'The current voluntary sign-up to the
ehealth records system is failing to gain
momentum and the Government needs
to adopt more proactive measures to
ensure our health system shares the
benefits of information technology now
routine elsewhere,' CHF spokesman,
Mark Metherell said.
'The CHF in its submission to the Review
of the Personally Controlled Electronic
Health Record makes the case for an "opt
out" model in the light of overwhelming
evidence and in the interests of genuine
'Ehealth has been on the horizon for
two decades in Australia and now nearly
18 months after the PCEHR went live,
less than one 20th of the population
have signed up and there remains little
active use of the system. Just 11,200
shared health summaries have been
entered by healthcare providers.
'The "opt in" approach has left the
whole ehealth development in drift.
After the expenditure of $1 billion it is
not clear whether any health benefits
'The opt-in approach was adopted
partly to respond to understandable
privacy and security concerns. However,
there are measures that have been put
in place that deal with these concerns.
'In its submission to the review, CHF
argues that extensive consultation with
consumers and other stakeholders and a
review of international experience, give
support to making the system opt out.'
A key benefit to this approach is that
the vast majority of Australians could
benefit more quickly from the greater
accuracy, safety and efficiency that
Greater access to electronic
The majority of Australian health patients (78%) believe they should have
full access to electronic medical records (EMR).
However, only 22% of consumers
say this is what they currently have,
according global management
consulting, technology services and
outsourcing company, Accenture's
nine-country survey of more than 9,000
consumers, including 1,002 Australians.
According to Accenture these findings
are consistent with other research that
shows only 18% of Australian doctors
believe patients should have full access
to their own record.
Supporting the growing trend of patient
engagement, nearly half of Australian
consumers (47%) surveyed without
online access to their medical records
would be willing to switch doctors to
gain access. This percentage rose to 55%
among consumers under 55 years of age
without online access to their records.
Leigh Donoghue, Managing Director of
Accenture's health business in Australia
said: 'The health sector is developing
more advanced electronic capabilities
to support clinical decision-making
and more integrated care. Consumer
engagement is a part of this, but not
necessarily a primary driver.
'This may need rethinking in light of the
considerable gap between doctor and
consumer attitudes towards electronic
access to medical records, particularly
for younger, technology-savvy
The Accenture patient survey also
revealed the majority of Australian
patients (60%) do not actively track
aspects of their health, such as health
indicators, health history and physical
activity. This finding was significantly
higher than in other surveyed countries,
as nearly half of patients (48%) across
all nine countries surveyed say they
do not actively track these aspects of
Over three-quarters of consumers in
Australia (78%) reported that they
currently have limited or no access to
their electronic medical records while
the percentage declined slightly for
consumers (70%) aged 18 to 34 years
old. However, there was only a slight
difference between male (46%) and
female (39%) consumers that believe
they should be able to update all
information within their health record.
'It is essential that we find a way to
balance the legitimate needs and
concerns of Australian doctors with
the rising needs and expectations
of consumers in a digital age,'
Accenture conducted an online survey
of 9,015 adults aged 18+ to assess
consumer perceptions of their medical
providers' electronic capabilities in
Australia, Brazil, Canada, England,
France, Germany, Singapore, Spain
and the United States. The survey, was
fielded by Harris Interactive in July 2013.
Where relevant, the survey compares
select findings from the Accenture
Doctors Survey to compare the doctor
and consumer responses.
Patient access to Australian electronic
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