Digital Health Evidence Review

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Globally, there has been a drive to digitise and integrate health information and data to advance healthcare.


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Many countries are investing in systems that support health information sharing, which can deliver benefits such as better health outcomes, greater efficiency and an improved experience of healthcare for people and their clinicians. This evidence review describes international approaches to providing people and their clinicians with access to shared digital health information and resources. It has been written for people who want to learn more about Australia's My Health Record and other similar systems around the world that provide shared health information to people and their clinicians.

What's in this review?

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Within this review you will find detailed information about registration, adoption, access and active use of the My Health Record system and other international examples of shared digital health information systems, an overview of international policy supporting these systems, and case studies from around the world that showcase the international evidence in this field. You will also find a glossary and FAQs to guide you. In order to complement the information provided on Australia’s My Health Record system, this review aims to focus on shared digital health information systems at a national level. Best efforts were made to provide a global contextual view and present data for countries where this information was readily available.

The objectives of this review are to:

Objective 1Australians and healthcare providers connected to My Health Record
Present an overview of the way Australians and their healthcare providers connect to and use My Health Record
Objective 2Provide comparisons of international experience with shared digital health information systems
Provide an overview and comparisons of the international experience with shared digital health information systems


Topics

Types of electronic health information Overview Adoption
Types of digital health records International overview of digital health record systems Benefits of shared digital health records
Access and use by individuals Providers Benefits of personal health records
Adoption of digital health records Use of digital health records by individuals Use of digital health records by healthcare providers


Key findings of this review are:

  • My Health Record is a secure online summary of an individual’s health information that can be accessed, managed and shared with their healthcare providers. This is an example of a national implementation of a ‘personal health record’ (PHR).
  • Portals are an extension of electronic health records (EHRs) that offer a way for healthcare providers to allow individuals online access to information in their EHR, typically controlled by the system from which the information is sourced.
  • Internationally, implementations of systems similar to My Health Record that allow citizens access to their health information may be found in Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Norway and Sweden.
  • My Health Record legislation allows an individual to request corrections to their data and specify which health related data is shared with the healthcare professionals of their choice. Australia is amongst the minority of WHO member states which has these rights for citizens.
  • Legislation varies internationally regarding specified content, the need for patient consent, a patient’s right to access and the mandatory use of electronic health records and personal health records.
  • The benefits that have been demonstrated internationally of providing people and clinicians with access to shared health information include improved patient safety and health outcomes through increased adherence to treatments, and health system efficiencies relating to time savings for clinicians, reduced unnecessary duplication of investigations and avoided hospital admissions.