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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

National Electronic Health Record Projects

Insiders involved in the development of electronic health records no doubt have a good idea about the state of play but to outside observers the whole process is something of a mystery. At least on the basis of recent media reports it seems to be one step forward and another back.

The recent announcement of a delay in the NSW Health tender for a electronic medical record supplier (see our posting below 10 February - NSW health records project delayed) has been followed by an agreement at the Council of Australian Governments meeting last week to allocate $45 million over three years to development of a national system of individual health care identifiers to be used to link electronic medical records.

According to an article in The Australian Financial Review on 14 February this project is one of three projects being overseen by the National E-Health Transition Authority, an independent organisation charged with developing standards required to effectively roll out national electronic health records.

While the technological issues are obviously daunting there are also major privacy issues that need to be addressed. As reported by the Review the Chief Executive of the Authority said that the three projects will commence in July and be completed within three years. He said that a study into privacy issues associated with the proposed individual health care identifier was yet to be completed and it was too early to say whether patients would be able to opt out of the system.

Under current NSW legislation the inclusion of any individual’s health records in an electronic system require the express consent of the individual concerned.

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