The Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record system.
If you live in Australia, you will be hearing a whole lot more about this over the coming months.
From July this year, all Australians will have the option of registering for their own PCEHR database. This is a secure repository of personal healthcare information that can be accessed by Hospitals, Diagnostic laboratories, Pharmacists, General Practitioners and family members or carers. But the control of what information is on the system and who can access it rests completely in the hands of the consumer (or a person that they nominate).
One of the biggest problems in helthcare at the moment is the impossibly large amount of information that is generated as a patient moves through any given health system. Information that is stored on multiple discrete databases with poor or no communication.
The PCEHR will have the capability to draw this information from multiple sources. Clinical documents such as Pathology results, discharge summaries and specialist letters can all be gathered over secure encrypted systems.
Medical History, Current medications, Immunisation history as well as other important information such as Allergies, medical alerts, organ and tissue donation wishes, and advanced care directive information can also be added.
Again, the consumer has control over exactly what information will be collected and have full moderation over which healthcare providers can access it. They will always be able to access the entire record themselves (or nominate family members who can access it) and can also shut down their account at any time should they so wish.
Plenty of work has been done in testing the PCEHR system to ensure it is a robust and secure platform before it goes live next month.
Even so, there are certain to be plenty of concerns around privacy & security issues once the system rolls out, and strong debate and discussion around this is not a bad thing.
Here is an example of one website doing just that: Australian Health Information Technology.
In the end, it will be up to the consumer to make the decision to opt-in.
But speaking from the point of view of an emergency nurse, having quick access to contemporaneous and accurate patient healthcare records, particularly around advanced care directives, but also including medical and medication history is one giant step forward in providing best care.
What do you think?
You can have a quick overview of the record system here.
Or, if this is something of deeper interest to you, you can dive into the substance and concepts of it here (pdf file).
Finally, if you would like to be kept up to date with the roll out of this system, or you would like to sign up to use it, you can register here.