My Health Record: What You Need To Know

This piece was first published on the Ellen Health website, and may be of interest to those wanting to learn more about My Health Record.

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At Ellen Health we are using information technology to provide our patients with the best possible care. With this aim in mind, the practice is currently encouraging and assisting our patients to obtain their own electronic health record. Read on to learn more about My Health Record (MHR).

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What is My Health Record?

My Health Record is Australia’s digital health record system. When a patient chooses to have a MHR a secure online summary of their health information is created by their nominated GP. This can contain a patient’s medical conditions, medications, allergies, immunisations, pathology test results, diagnostic imaging and even advanced care directives.

According to the latest statistics, over 2.7 million Australians now have a MHR, with an average of one new person every minute signing up.

Electronic health systems are used all over the world to improve patient care. MHR brings Australia in line with countries such as the USA and the UK.

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What are the advantages of having a My Health Record?

Convenience

Frustrated by having to explain your medical history over and over when meeting a new doctor? Or having to remember all the medications you are taking? With a MHR all this information is stored securely online and can be viewed by any doctor you choose to share it with, even if you have traveled interstate. Once your MHR is set up, you don’t have to worry about maintaining it. This can be managed by your GP if you wish.

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Safety

In an emergency situation it is vital that a doctor knows your past medical history and allergies so they can provide you with the best care possible. Having a MHR means that a doctor can obtain this information even if you are unable to tell them. These details are also important when a new medication is being prescribed; knowing your allergies and current prescriptions reduces the risk of having an allergic reaction or adverse drug interaction.

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Improved Patient Care

Creating an up to date summary of your medical history is an important aspect of your usual care at Ellen Health. It allows for continuity of care with other doctors in the practice if your usual doctor is away. This information is also vital for specialist and hospital referrals. Our medical software draws this information together in a ‘Shared Health Summary’ which can then be uploaded to your personal MHR. This valuable summary can be available to any health professional at your discretion.

If you receive medical treatment in another clinic, anywhere in Australia, you can request your treating doctor to upload details of this episode to your MHR.

Other advantages include reducing the risk of repeated or unnecessary tests, and the ability to include an advance care directive (this makes it easier for doctors and trusted family to make end of life decisions).

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Are My Health Records secure?

Just like banking and many other online activities, online health records are protected and regulated by law. There are strict rules and regulations concerning who can see or use the information on your MHR, and penalties apply when these are broken. With a MHR, it is the patient that controls what goes into it and who can access it.

The only reason a health professional can see and use your MHR information without explicit permission is in an emergency situation. Under the My Health Records Act 2012, the information can be obtained when it is ‘unreasonable or impractical to obtain consent’ and they ‘reasonably believe that this is necessary to lessen or prevent a serious threat to a person’s life, health or safety’.

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How can I obtain a My Health Record and how is it created?

There are two ways to set up your MHR. The easiest way is to ask our Reception staff to do this for you. This is called ‘Assisted Registration’.

You can also register yourself at the My Health Record webpage.

To create a MHR, the Department of Health collects information from Medicare and certain other government bodies. This includes your name, date of birth and any Medicare records from the last two years. Once it has been set up, any healthcare providers participating in the MHR system can upload health information into your record with your permission. Any healthcare professionals you choose to share this information with can then see it.

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Potential future directions…

Not only can electronic health records positively impact an individual’s health, but they also have the capacity to improve the health of populations. Online medical records generate large quantities of data that can be used for research and monitoring, which in turn will allow people to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress. For example, data from health records could help to identify new factors that predispose to diseases like diabetes and cancer. If this goes ahead, the data would be de-identified as patient privacy and confidentiality is the top priority.

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If you would like to learn more please visit the MHR website or speak to your general practitioner.

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