Vulnerable patients could benefit from having an My Health Record, says award winning Practice Manager

Drug addicts, refugees and immigrant non-English speakers are apprehensive about giving up information to the My Health Record system but in fact they are among the patients most likely to benefit from it, says award-winning Practice Manager Anastasia Dimitriou, who manages Mediclinic in the Melbourne suburb of Clayton.

"Patients who collapse or have to be rushed to emergency and can't communicate could have their lives saved if they have a My Health Record," she said.

Ms Dimitriou, named the AAPM Practice Manager of the Year in 2014, says the majority of patients at Mediclinic are there to receive services by five GPs specially trained in addiction medicine. While the clinic is asking patients if they want to sign up for a My Health Record, some of the patients are not interested.

Clayton Melbourne Australia eHealth Practice Manager

"A lot of addiction patients don't want things tracked, they don't want people to know they are on a methadone program or whatever their treatment is," she said.

This concern by patients is unfounded. Queensland GP and Senior Clinical Governance Advisor with the Agency Dr John Aloizos says one solution is to make sure patients understand they get to choose what is uploaded. "People can choose not to upload aspects of their medical history - such as addiction, alcoholism, or drugs for depression or STDs, yet share information on their medications and allergies. It is this information that could save their life in an emergency.

"There is a misconception among GPs it has to be a complete record. But you don't need everything to be in there."

Patients currently do not tell their doctors everything about the medical history. "At the viewing end, you can always ask the patient if there is anything else they want to share about their history", he said.

Ms Dimitriou mentioned "Another clinic I know has a lot of patients who are refugees and they are very apprehensive about giving up information. Yet if they had a My Health Record, any potential language difficulties would be more easily overcome in an emergency situation. We need to break down some of the myths about My Health Records, so as to get people to enroll."

"I'm part owner in my practice and I'm passionate about practice management so I believe anything we can do to improve health outcomes for our patients is worth doing," she said.

She said the clinic had newly engaged a doctor who would be championing My Health Records for Mediclinic by reviewing files for clean data as well as targeting routine patients to upload Shared Health Summary's and using Assisted Registration where required.

"At the end of the day if it benefits the patients and we can do it safely – that is what counts."

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