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Australians favour the idea of an electronic health record - with a significant minority even prepared to pay for it - according to a survey of 1200 people.

But patients and doctors are divided over how much control individuals should have over the contents of the record and whether they should be able to add to it themselves.

So-called e-health records - intended to improve the quality of patients' treatment by ensuring the health workers who treat them have access to all relevant information - are central to health reforms proposed by the federal government and are set to be implemented with the states.

But the finer details of the health plan have still to be determined, and previous attempts to unify health records have been frustrated by technical complexity and privacy concerns.

The new survey, conducted by Newspoll for the computer systems company CSC, found two-thirds of respondents were in favour of e-health records and 27 per cent would be prepared to contribute financially.

Two-thirds believed the private health insurance industry should contribute to the cost of e-health records, while 88 per cent thought they should be primarily a government responsibility.

Patients, and a small group of doctors interviewed in a parallel survey, agreed current medications, test results and previous diagnoses would form the most important portion of an individual's e-health record, with doctors' notes rated as slightly less critical.

Three-quarters of consumers wanted the ability to add their own notes or measurements to the record, such as readings from home blood pressure or glucose monitors.

And 85 per cent wanted to be able to select which of their doctors had access to different elements of their records - a feature promised by the federal government.

But doctors were wary. ''What layers of bureaucracy are going to stand between me and a medical record?'' one commented.

''Do I have to justify to the patient every time I need to access their record? Is the patient the one to decide that I get access so that I can treat them?''

The federal government has budgeted $467 million over two years for the first phase of its e-health system, including a series of pilot projects that are expected first to focus on people with the poorest health, such as indigenous Australians and those with chronic illnesses.

The full cost of national implementation has been estimated at $1.6 billion.


Autor(en)/Author(s): Julie Robotham

Quelle/Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, 30.07.2010

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