“Qualified” support for PCEHR: MDA National

Medical defence organisation MDA National has given its “qualified support” to the PCEHR, saying the medico-legal concerns that were seen as a barrier to doctors' participation in the system had been appropriately addressed.

In an article in the Medical Forum WA magazine, MDA National president Julian Rait said while the organisation and other doctors' groups still had reservations about the system, the resolution of several aspects of the participation agreement that practices must sign meant the group could now give it qualified support.

Associate Professor Rait wrote that extensive discussions between doctors' groups and the Department of Health and Ageing had “resulted in more positive outcomes for doctors than initially proposed, with significant improvements to the Healthcare Provider Organisations (HPO) contract”.

“The recent removal of the ‘unilateral indemnity clause’ and modifications to the ‘intellectual property clause’ in the HPO contract means participating doctors will shoulder less legal liability and can feel more secure about being involved,” he wrote.

“DoHA’s responsiveness to the concerns raised by the industry has resulted in a more practical system and facilitated positive change with the HPO contract.”

However, he wrote that doctors's groups were still concerned with several aspects of the PCEHR, including the ability of patients to conceal documents from specified healthcare practitioners and the government's determination that general practices will become ineligible for the eHealth Practice Incentive Program (ePIP) if they choose not to participate in the PCEHR.

Pulse+IT is awaiting further comment from Associate Professor Rait.

While the Australian Medical Association (AMA) will not recommend to its members that they participate, national president Steve Hambleton told Pulse+IT recently that there were only a few technicalities that need to be overcome before doctors' groups were satisfied with the participation agreements.

“There have been some significant moves although there are one or two definitional issues that are still a problem, but I think the insurers and the AMA are very close,” Dr Hambleton said. “The hard work is done and now we are down to the definitions – it's not to do with terms and conditions, but we are down to technicalities.”

Individual doctors don't have to sign the participation agreement but their healthcare organisations do. The agreement covers the rights and obligations for both the organisation and DoHA, the system operator. The obligations relate to the uploading of records, intellectual property arrangements, the allocation of liability between the parties and the processes for notifying key events and changes.

There is a range of participation agreements to cover the pertinent legal structure of each healthcare provider organisation, including sole director company, company, partnership, sole trader, trust and unincorporated and incorporated associations.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Ageing said that as at July 31, 1566 Healthcare Provider Identifiers - Organisation have been assigned to healthcare organisations, which is a prerequisite for them participating in the eHealth record system.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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