My Health Record: 10 years, no progress, no news
We here at Pulse+IT like to keep an eye on not just industry media coverage of health IT but mainstream media coverage too, and this week provided quite a few morsels. The Guardian ran one of its regular stories on the My Health Record last week and while we think it got it right in terms of balance – it reported those who were for, those who were against and those who were in between – nothing new was revealed, to be honest.
The MyHR/PCEHR was launched almost 10 years ago (not 12) and it has cost upwards of $2.6 billion (not less) but otherwise the main thrust of The Guardian’s story is on the money. The system simply isn’t being used, not that this is news to anyone. The RACGP’s in-house PR unit newsGP was touting a spike in use in January, due to people looking at their COVID vax record and PCR results, but the figures pretty much returned to normal after that. Yes, you can see your vax records and test results on a nice little dashboard in My Health Record, but you can also get them elsewhere. The big use case for patients simply isn’t being met by the system.
We are not giving up hope, however. The My Health Record may be a serial under-achiever, but quite honestly there is no other alternative that does what it promises (even if it fails to deliver). In Australia – and we are not alone – there is no other system that has ever been put forward that gives patients access to their own health information. A big barrier is of course the privacy lobby, which has always put itself forward as the guardian of health information but we think has always been the main barrier to people getting access to their information.
That’s not to say the My Health Record is any good. It’s not. It is a pain in the backside to the nth degree. Medications dispensed show up, but prescriptions written don’t. You get a print out of a health assessment from your nurse, but that’s not uploaded because she’s a nurse. Vax info is immediate, but you can get that anywhere. You ask your GP what’s on your record, but she really doesn’t give a damn because she’s too busy to look.
That has always been the main problem with the system, beyond technical difficulties. There is absolutely no incentive for a GP to upload a shared health summary. They get little if anything out of it – yes, we know the Medicare items can come in handy but really – and apart from a practice-wide email telling them to do so in order to qualify for the ePIP, we all know very well that GPs ignore it.
We here at Pulse+IT go back to something we have argued for a decade. If there is no other incentive for GPs to use the system, how about paying them? And no, practice incentive payments aren’t good enough. Pay a GP for a service, and they might just do it.
We have a new government in Australia that promises to sort out a few things in healthcare, with aged care top of the list. Good. Then, please pay attention to the desperate cries from the primary care sector, which is the absolute bedrock of the healthcare system in Australia and New Zealand. Then, ambos and first responders, emergency department staff, acute care nursing ratios and the broader aged care industry.
Welcome to health and aged care, ministers Butler and Wells. It will not be fun.
Last week, we asked: can the Australian and NZ health systems be fixed? Yes, 70 per cent of you said, a good majority. We also asked what you would do first. Here’s what you said.