Pulse+IT Blog

A tale of two comments

The My Health Record was back in the news this week as Department of Health and Australian Digital Health Agency officials were forced to undergo yet another gruelling bout of interrogation from the same Senate committee that put them through the wringer not six weeks ago.

Having handed down a report last Thursday recommending that the My Health Record opt-out period be suspended or extended for another year – an idea that was promptly rejected by Health Minister Greg Hunt last week – the same faces fronted up to Senate Estimates on Wednesday, with the same result. The only news was that about 240,000 more people had opted out since the last time the question was asked.

Blunt axe for the fax

Last week, we asked readers whether they thought a local axe the fax campaign, based on a similar one launched in the UK to rid the NHS of its fax machines, would work on this side of the planet. While the majority of respondents to our poll did – 64.5 per cent said yes, versus 35.5 per cent saying no – many of the resulting comments on the blog and on our Facebook Chat site were not so sure. It was not so much about whether a campaign would work, but whether we should even bother.

Many of the commenters, GPs and practice staff in the main, were of the opinion that faxes were entrenched in the healthcare system for very good reason: they are quick, easy, and everyone knows how to use them. Certainly there is a recognition that they were not exactly secure and there are plenty of GPs who detest them, but there are also plenty who say they are still the easiest, most reliable form of communication.

Do we need to take a local axe to the fax?

It's just over two years ago now that the RACGP put its foot down on the continuing use of the fax in general practice, issuing a position paper calling for healthcare services and government agencies that communicate patient information with general practice to cut out the paper and move instead to secure electronic means.

The college had high hopes that this could happen in three years, what with alternative means such as secure messaging already a mature technology. But while progress has been made by the industry to achieve interoperability between secure messaging providers, the fax machines are still there, cranking out as much paper as ever.

Nice set of numbers for MyHR

It doesn't really reach the heights of Paul Keating's inimitable description of the 1989 national accounts as a “beautiful set of numbers”, but the federal government would be more than pleased with the headline figure of three per cent as the opt-out rate of the My Health Record so far.

Considering the relentless negative press that has accompanied the start of the opt-out period in mid-July, that just under 900,000 people have opted out is a pretty good outcome for the government and its agencies. The opt-out rate in the 2016 trials was 1.9 per cent but the government's own research shows that half the trial population didn't even know what a MyHR was before they got one, so that number is a bit rubbery, and three per cent will be accepted with alacrity.

A bit of a stink for the college

Our top story for the week concerns an issue that has been bubbling away for a couple of years now and has raised its head again with the news that the RACGP has agreed to partner with a Canadian vendor called Myca Health to help it survey GP views on practice management systems.

Myca sells a PMS called Hello Health into the US market and is planning on making an advance on the Australian market in future. To do this, it's looking to tailor the existing technology for local requirements, and has entered into an arrangement with the RACGP to get its help in facilitating a conversation between members and Myca on what they'd like to see from a PMS.

MyHR inquiry a predictable yawnfest

This week's proceedings in eHealth kicked off with yet another Senate committee inquiry into the My Health Record on Tuesday night, where we saw pretty much the same old faces repeating the same old things to the same old committee members.

One new face was former AMA president Kerryn Phelps, who delivered a pretty good speech on why she loathes the My Health Record with all her being, repeating arguments we have all heard before at numerous other Senate committee inquiries.

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