On 10 May 2015, the Government announced that it will rename the personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) scheme as “myHealth Record” and adopt an opt-out model after completion of limited trials. Health and aged care providers should ensure that their IT infrastructure can interface with “myHealth Record” and adequately meet the technical requirements of the new e-health system.

Implications for health and aged care providers

Importantly, health and aged care providers (and other organisation having access to electronic health records) should ensure that their IT infrastructure is sufficiently robust to maintain the privacy and security of health records to which their staff will have access.

Providers may need to mix technology, contracts and employment policies to ensure that they are sufficiently capable of assuming responsibility for the information they collect from patients and customers in the course of delivering services.

Information about the current PCEHR can be found at the eHealth website. This could be used as a guide to providers to plan systems for myHealth Record. But providers should bear in mind that the Government intends to revise the myHealth Record system to “become more user-friendly and to better reflect the needs of health professionals, including better alignment with existing clinical workflows”. The Government has not set a timeframe for when information about myHealth Record will be published.

December 2013 review recommended switch to “opt-out” model

The previous Government introduced the PCEHR scheme as an “opt-in” model. However, an independent review commissioned by the current Government found that less than 10% of Australians had adopted PCEHR since it was launched in 2012.

The review recommended that the Government changes the model to an “opt-out” model to encourage large-scale take-up of electronic health records. The Government released the results of the independent review via the Government’s eHealth website.

In the 2015 Budget, the Government allocated $485 million over four years to the roll-out of the myHealth Record system. The Government predicts that when the system is fully operational, it could save up to $2.5 billion per year, with State and Territory Governments collectively saving an extra $1.6 billion per year.

Government to run limited trials

The Government will run limited trials around Australia of the opt-out model, in conjunction with the State and Territory Governments. The Federal Health Minister will meet with her State and Territory counterparts to plan when and where the trials will be established.

As part of the revisions to the electronic health records initiative, the Government will dissolve the National eHealth Transition Authority and replace it with an Australian Commission for eHealth from July 2016.