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Trial of electronic health records

18 May, 2006

Healthelink, the first NSW pilot of a revolutionary electronic health records system to improve patient care and speed up treatment, is underway in Hunter.

NSW Minister for Health, John Hatzistergos, said the project will involve the secure collection and storage of eligible patients’ health information from Maitland Hospital, John Hunter Hospital, East Maitland and Raymond Terrace community health centres.

"Electronic health record systems will provide health care professionals with the medical patient information they need, when they need it,” Hatzistergos said.

“This will make a big difference for patients and health-care staff - providing instant access to a patient’s records without having to contact their GP or wait for paper records to be retrieved.

“The Electronic Health Record has exciting potential: to unclog delays in the system and improve safety for patients.

“The information will be displayed in an electronic health record accessible by the patient and participating healthcare providers.

“That means, for example, that an emergency department specialist could quickly access a patient’s care details from other public hospitals or community health centres – giving them more information to provide better care.

“It also means that when the patient later visits their GP, the doctor can access vital information from the hospital about their treatment and condition. Hospital discharge summaries and patient test results will also be accessible through the system,” Hatzistergos said.

“This is the first stage of the trial. In the next stage GPs will also be able to enter patient information into the system as well as being able to view records from hospitals.

Healthelink will initially be available for people aged 65 years and over living in the Maitland and Raymond Terrace areas – postcodes 2320 to 2324.

"Privacy and security have been a key focus during the development of the system and will continue to be our highest priority in the trial.

“All patient information will be held in a secure password-protected environment and in accordance with health privacy laws.

“This Healthelink pilot is completely voluntary, anybody who does not wish to take part will be able to opt out easily.

"The revolutionary pilot will test how well the Electronic Health Record will assist doctors and nurses in real-life healthcare situations, and we hope to learn from its use here in the Hunter,” Hatzistergos said.

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