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EHR Blueprint Released

In April 2011, the Australian Department of Health and Ageing released a national blueprint for personally controlled electronic health records (PCEHR). The paper, Concept of Operations, describes the PCEHR system, including its structure and security measures, as well as its benefits. Privacy protection and appropriate security are critical aspects of the PCEHR system design. Individuals will have significant control over their PCEHR and how it is used.

Patients can choose to have (or not have) a PCEHR through the opt-in design, can access all information in their PCEHR, set limits on which healthcare providers can access their records, apply greater controls to sensitive information, and choose to hide certain information in their PCEHR. Additionally, the PCEHR system will record details of every access made to an individual's PCEHR. Individuals will be able to view this information through an online audit record and make enquires and complaints about potentially inappropriate access. Furthermore, additional safeguards will underpin the PCEHR system, including: technical security measures, training, effective and transparent governance arrangements, legal protections and penalties, and regulatory oversight.

According to Australian Health Minister Nicola Roxon, "E-health is one of the critical elements of the Gillard Government's efforts to modernize our health system through national health reform." Minister Roxon added that e-health will help to address the fragmentation of medical records which exist across a vast array of different systems—paper and electronic—with no single, secure solution for sharing records even when sharing is needed to save lives. A nationwide roll-out of PCEHRs is scheduled for July 2012.


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