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News Bulletin : ADA News Bulletin December 2010
18 DECEMBER 2010 Well the Federal election is finally over, now the politicians get back to work. One of the differences in policies between the Liberal and Labor campaign was the introduction of the e-Health initiative. Now that the Labor government holds office it seems inevitable that this initiative will start to be realised. So what is e-Health all about? The Australian government passed new legislation around their e-Health initiative on the 24 June 2010. These are the Healthcare Identifiers Bill 2010 and Healthcare Identifiers (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2010. According to the government; e-Health is set to improve the way healthcare is delivered in Australia by transforming the way information is used to plan, manage and deliver health services. It will achieve this through better use of information technology to facilitate electronic access, transmission and recording of health information. In the future e-Health will enable patients to have secure electronic access to their own health related information via a central database initially hosted by Medicare. The initiative is designed to support healthcare providers in their decision making process by making patient health information electronically available to the practitioner from the central database. Access to this information is obviously a very sensitive issue so to overcome this problem the government will be issuing a series of unique identifiers. Every person in Australia that is receiving healthcare will be issued with a unique 16 digit identifier known as Individual Healthcare Identifier (IHI). With this number a patient will be able to look up the medical and related information stored. Enrolment into the programme is voluntary and creation of an individual electronic health record will only take place if an individual agrees. Importantly, a person can decline to continue to participate at any time. Individuals can then give consent to give legitimate access to a healthcare provider organisation. This will have implications for every practice in Australia in a number of ways. A new unique number will also be given for each practice called a Healthcare Provider Identifier -- Organisation (HPI-O). Every Health Care Provider will be given a unique number (Healthcare Provider Identifier -- Individual (HPI-I)). A separate number will be given to each Non-Healthcare Provider such as receptionists and practice managers. These identifiers will be used to gain access to individual patient's medical information via their Individual Healthcare Identifier (IHI) if the patient has authorised this access. The central database will record the details of both the organization and the individual that is accessing patient medical information. Patients will also be given the ability to request an audit log to see who has accessed their medical information. Practice management systems will need to be modified to allow the practice to store these series of identifiers so they can access the most up-to-date medical information of their patients. Practices will need to have the ability to search for an individual's records either via a phone system or the internet. If a practice has access to the internet then this searching of a patient's details can be done via the computer. Further, the practice can download and store medical information/alerts into the practice management system. This is a fundamental shift in the way that medical information will be shared in Australia and it will change the way healthcare providers interact. Software developers of Practice Management Systems have already started on the work required to allow customers to be current as these systems are rolled out. If your practice is not computerised then the onus will be on the staff to securely access this information via the telephone, alternatively if you are computerised, make sure that your practice management solution provider is planning to develop the required e-Health capability into the product. The web link http://www.nehta.gov.au/ has a great deal of detail about this. Simon Price Software of Excellence WHAT IS e-HEALTH all about? "... e-Health is set to improve the way healthcare is delivered in Australia by transforming the way information is used to plan, manage and deliver health services..."
ADA News Bulletin November 2010
ADA News Bulletin February 2011