eHealth 'threatened by self-interested doctors'

05 November, 2014

The full potential of electronic health records is being threatened by self-interested doctors who wrongly claim they are putting patients' interests first, lobby group Consumers Health Forum (CHF) has claimed in a recent statement.

"There is widespread support for the introduction of a personally-controlled electronic health record," says CHF CEO Adam Stankevicius.

"Government-commissioned research found that a comprehensive system would prevent thousands of avoidable hospitalisations and save $7 billion a year.

"Yet a doctors group is still seeking to prevent patients getting prompt access to pathology results meant for their personal electronic health record."

Patients subject to "unnecessary distress"

Stankevicius said the Royal Australian College of GPs had been arguing against patients learning the results of path tests on 'safety' grounds, asserting that patients getting bad news before hearing it from them could be subject to "unnecessary distress".

"We reject that claim – pathology results going direct to patients is standard practice in other countries. There may well be greater safety risks in the pathology results not being lodged immediately onto the patient's electronic record where they might alert not only the patient but other clinicians of significant issues, particularly in emergency situations," he said.

"The RACGP appears reluctant to yield up the doctor's traditional authority over patient records. It is time for the College to acknowledge that the health evolution is here and is giving patients and consumers much more capacity to have greater say about their health care and their health records.

"What is clear is that the internet and electronic health data will make it increasingly easier for consumers to make informed decisions about where to seek best care and how much they should pay for it."

Convert to 'opt out' system

Stankevicius also said the eHealth scheme should be converted from the current 'opt in' process to an 'opt out' system in order to support a faster rollout of an effective national system, just as occurred when Medicare was introduced.

"It's time for those who oppose comprehensive patient-controlled electronic health records to move on or move out of the way," Stankevicius said.