Why My Health Record won’t save your life
THE Government says the $2 billion My Health Record will save your life in an emergency but there are major problems with that claim - ambulance paramedics can't access the record.
Paramedics are often the first responders in a medical crisis and information on the My Health Record about a person's medical conditions and medications could be crucial in determining how to treat them in an emergency.
However, News Corp has contacted ambulance services in every state only to be told they can't access the My Health Record.
The Australian Digital Health Agency, which runs the record, confirmed to that more than six years after the record was launched, access by ambulance paramedics is "not activated yet".
Worse still, one in four of the nation's hospitals and health services aren't connected to the system so they can't use it when a patient comes in an emergency.
And the president of the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine Dr Simon Judkins says the IT system in many public hospitals are so poor doctors in emergency departments can't access the record anyway.
"No, it's not widely used. Some emergency departments have My Health Records but it hasn't been widely advertised and if you log on and there is no information on it you are less likely to use it," he said.
Every Australian will have a My Health Record automatically created for them from February 1 unless they opt out by midnight on January 31.
The record will reveal if a patient has a mental illness, a sexually transmitted disease, had an abortion or is impotent and privacy experts have raised major concerns it could be vulnerable to hacking.
Already there have been 88 data breaches involving the record and over one million Australians have opted out of the system.
In a bid to stop people opting out, Health Minister Greg Hunt has been promoting the controversial record as being about "saving lives and protecting lives".
Australian Digital Health Agency boss Tim Kelsey says patients who are unconscious and suffer from allergies to drugs won't get given medications that could cause them harm if this allergy is recorded on their My Health Record.
To test this claim News Corp contacted ambulance services around the country only to be told they can't access the My Health Record.
The Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) which runs the record has also told News Corp that more than six years after the record was launched access by ambulance paramedics is "not activated yet".
The ADHA's own website also reveals that one in four of the nation's public hospitals and health services aren't able to view the My Health Record.
The problems punch a major hole in the claims the record will help save lives said Independent MP and former Australian Medical Association president Professor Kerryn Phelps.
"If the record is to have the potential to save lives in an emergency paramedics are the ones who go out to emergencies," she said.
"I don't think we have any proof at all that it will save your life," she said.
"All this is further evidence of why I'm calling for a 12 month delay in the roll out," she said.
Peter Jurkosky, President Paramedics Australasia and Marty Nichols, President of Australian and New Zealand College of Paramedicine said paramedics regarded access to vital information through My Health Record in the future as being beneficial in maximising quality levels of care to our patients.
"The ability to access real time information relevant to a patient's allergies, current medications and past medical history is invaluable in many emergency situations in which paramedics operate every day throughout Australia," they said.
To be able to access the My Health Record health professionals must be registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and paramedics did not become an AHPRA-regulated profession until December last year.
Now individual paramedics have to apply for accreditation before they can access the My Health Record system.
The ADHA says before ambulance paramedics can use the system their organisations will have to register and receive a government healthcare provider number and get secure IT systems with an encrypted connection to the My Health Record system.
"The Agency is working with each jurisdiction to support connecting health services to the My Health Record system," the ADHA said.