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Electronic health records one step closer

24 November 2011 - 2:29pm

The federal government has introduced legislation for a $500 million e-health record system for Australia.

Health minister Nicola Roxon presented the bill to parliament yesterday (November 23), allowing patients to opt-in to the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) system, due to start in July 2012 if approved.

"Australians will have unprecedented control over their health information, including who can access their record and which documents can be viewed," Ms Roxon said.

According to the health minister, patient records - including those with private health insurance - will have the capacity to contain summary information such as conditions, medications and allergies, as well as events such as hospital stays.

"Electronic health records have the potential to save lives, time and money and make the health system more efficient," she added.

"There's no doubt that Australia needs to drag the management of health records into the 21st century."

The legislation will also allow records to be connected to existing information from Medicare systems.

The National E-health Transition Authority has already introduced a range of e-communications available to Australians, including discharge summaries, medication management, pathology and referrals.