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My Health Record reaches “critical mass”

by Justin Hendry •
Free resource

Topics: IT Services; Software; Digital Transformation; Fed.

More than four years after its ill-fated predecessor was introduced, the revamped My Health Record (MyHR) has reached critical mass, cementing the future of the Department of Health’s ehealth system.

Speaking at the 2016 Health Informatics Conference in Melbourne on Monday, Minister for Health Susan Ley said that almost four million MyHRs – or an individual record for nearly 20 per cent of the population – had been created.

“When I came into Office I was told that people won’t use the system unless there is a critical mass – well with almost 35,000 Australians signing voluntarily up each week and with early indications that our Opt-out trials are running very well – the critical mass is there”, she said.

One million of these new records were automatically created as part of an opt-out pilot in far north Queensland and the Nepean/Blue Mountains region in New South Wales, which began in June 2016. MyHR continues to operate on an opt-in basis elsewhere in Australia.

Only one in ten Australians had signed up the eHealth record prior to the Federal Government’s overhaul of the opt-in model in October 2015.

A December 2013 review of what was then the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) found the opt-in model to be ineffectual for a national system designed to improve access to patient information.

Feedback received by Health had suggested there was ambivalence among the clinical community about using the system at all because of the limited number of patients that had registered for a PCEHR.

Accenture, Oracle and Orion Health are the three main suppliers behind MyHR (and the PCEHR before it).

As the prime contractor, Accenture has signed a total of 12 contracts for infrastructure and support services for the PCEHR, worth $260.8 million since August 2011, according to Intermedium’s Analyse IT tool.

Oracle has signed two PCEHR software and licensing contracts with the department to date – one in May 2011 for $18.4 million and another in July 2016 for $2.9 million.

Orion Health reportedly provides the portal for MyHR through a $13.4 million contract, which has expired.

MyHR is also now accessible on mobile devices, empowering citizens to better manage their health. However, a MyHR application is yet to be developed.

“It will be a game changer. It will enable us as health consumers to become more active in managing our health, and will provide coherent links between the multiple services that so many of us now need", Ley said.

MyHR is overseen by the new Australian Digital Health Agency, which began operating on 1 July 2016 as a replacement for the National e-Health Transition Authority. The agency’s board consists of Queensland Health Director-General Michael Walsh, Northern Territory Department of Health Chief Information Officer Stephen Moo, and federal Department of Health Strategic Health Systems and Information Management Special Adviser Paul Madden.

“The new Agency will set the national agenda for technical and data standards, promote clear principles for interoperability and open source development”, Ley said.

“Today we are embracing mobile technology, apps, and trackers. Tomorrow it could be artificial intelligence, individual precision medicines, tailored and personalised technology as well as implantable.”

The 2015-16 Budget allocated $485 million over four years towards the redevelopment of MyHR, including funding for the foundations of eHealth and trialling opt-out arrangements. This builds on the $466.7 million, $233.7 million and $140.6 million made available to the operation of the PCEHR and eHealth in the 2010-11, 2012-13 and 2014-15 budgets.

Last financial year, the Department of Health signed 392 ICT contracts worth $331.6, down from the 435 contracts worth $377.4 million during 2014-15.

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