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The Federal Government is preparing to roll out a new $470 million e-health initiative from 1 July 2012. The initiative is known as the Personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR). It aims to provide individual Australians with a comprehensive online medical history, covering their treatment by all kinds of health professionals, where individuals will have control over their own e-health records.
While Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek, says e-health records will mean easier and faster access to patient information, there has been some concern by bodies, including the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the Australian Medical Association, regarding privacy, data security, low uptake and software compatibility issues.
At the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services Council (KAMSC) in Broome, however, this type of e-health system has been running successfully for close to five years. The Aboriginal Medical Service, in Western Australia's Kimberley region, has already developed and implemented its own online Internet database of patients' medical records - the MMEx web-based electronic health record.
Although still officially described as a pilot program, the system - developed in partnership between KAMSC clinicians and the University of Western Australia - has already delivered tangible health benefits to the health service's Aboriginal clients.
‘Each community has control over their own set of medical records, and patients can give their individual consent for their record to be accessed outside their home community,' KAMSC Senior Medical Officer Dr Trevor Lord said in a recent interview for the Lowitja Institute's magazine Wangka Pulka. Dr Lord said the database was ‘a fantastic resource', that was particularly well suited to the Kimberley because of the vast distances between towns and the transience of its population.
Source: Lowitja Institute
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