Simon James, CEO Greater Metro South Brisbane Medicare Local explains how women can take control of their health with an eHealth record.
Women in Queensland are being encouraged to apply for a Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (eHealth record). A Federal Government initiative, the eHealth record is an online summary of your health information.
How does it differ from current medical records?
Under the current system, each time a woman visits a doctor, hospital or other medical facility her health information is stored in separate files, with little connection to each other.
The eHealth record, however, places all files/records on a nationally linked database, allowing women and their nominated healthcare providers to view, upload and share their health information. It is a simple and effective way of keeping health information in the one place. It allows women to record their allergies, medications and treatments, keep their own notes and track their progress.
What information will the eHealth record contain?
The eHealth record can contain information on:
- Your current medications
- Your current conditions / diagnoses
- Your allergies
- Your immunisations
As the system develops, more information can be added by nominated healthcare providers, such as your doctor, allied health professional, pharmacist or specialist.
What are the benefits of registering for the eHealth record?
It is not uncommon for women to visit a number of doctors. They may have one doctor for female related health issues (e.g., Pap smears, contraception) and another for ailments such as the flu or a sprained ankle. Similarly, women may visit a doctor near their workplace during the week but one closer to home on the weekend. The eHealth record enables women who attend several doctors to have all their medical information stored in the one place.
The eHealth record can also be very important in an emergency situation. If you were hospitalised following an accident or a severe allergic reaction, for example, your health information would be available to hospital staff, ensuring they have your key medical history to help them make the best decisions regarding your healthcare.
The eHealth record may be of particular benefit to women with chronic conditions who attend many medical appointments and/ or take a number of medications. The eHealth record can assist them to keep track of all their health information. Women who require high levels of health care and the support of others can provide permission to a carer or a family member, who can manage the eHealth record on their behalf.
What are the benefits of registering your children?
Keeping track of your baby's or young child's health information can be challenging.
You can register your children for an eHealth record, so you and your healthcare providers are able to access their health information when needed, even if they get sick in the middle of the night.
Registering your child for an eHealth record also makes it easier to keep track of important details, such as whether their immunisations are up to date, what tests they have had, and any allergies or adverse reactions to medication. This information is also vital for the healthcare providers involved in your child's care.
In addition, the eHealth record features a child development function for parents to record information such as head circumferences, height, weight and observations about their child's personal growth and development.
An eHealth record is designed to store more and more information as your child grows, making sure their key health information is kept up to date, and setting them up for a lifetime of better connected healthcare.
Is the eHealth record private and secure?
The importance people place on their privacy and security of personal information is understandable. The Australian Government has developed strict security measures and regulations to protect privacy. When women sign up for an eHealth record they are provided with a login and password to access their eHealth record. They are able to control what information is stored and who they want to share the information with.
Women are also able to see an activity history of their eHealth record, showing when anything has been added or removed and who has accessed it. A healthcare professional can only access an eHealth record with a person's permission.
If a woman believes at any time that her eHealth record has been accessed inappropriately they can contact the helpline on 1800 723 471.
Registering for your eHealth record
To obtain the eHealth record women need to register. Women can register in one of several ways:
- Online at www.ehealth.gov.au
- In person by visiting your nearest Department of Human Services centre that offers Medicare services (http://humanservices. findnearest.com.au/)
- Over the phone by calling 1800 723 471.
Last Updated October 2013.
© Women's Health Queensland Wide Inc. This article was written by Simon James and reviewed by the Women's Health Queensland Wide editorial committee. It was published in Health Journey 2013 Issue 3.
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