Roxon introduces PCEHR bill

The long-awaited legislation to enable the national eHealth records system was introduced to federal Parliament by Health Minister Nicola Roxon today.

The Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records Bill 2011 is likely to be passed by both houses in the new year, with Parliament due to rise for the summer recess tomorrow.

The roll out will start from July 2012, when Australians will be able to register for an eHealth record. As expected, it will be an opt-in or voluntary system. There are few changes from the draft legislation published earlier this year.

The bill includes strong penalties for breaches of privacy, such as inappropriate access and audit logs to see who is able to access each individual record.

To further placate those with privacy concerns, the Australian Information Commissioner will be appointed as the key system regulator.

Patients will be able to nominate authorised representatives to have rights to access the records and an Independent Advisory Council will be established to advise on operational and policy matters.

“Electronic health records have the potential to save lives, time and money and make the health system more efficient,” Ms Roxon said.

“There’s no doubt that Australia needs to drag the management of health records into the 21st century.”

She said the legislation will strike the right balance between security and access.

“...Australians will have unprecedented control over their health information, including who can access their record and which documents can be viewed,” she said.

“Our legislation will also allow records to be connected to the existing information from Medicare systems.

The bill is likely to pass both houses with the support of the independents and Greens.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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