The power of My Health Record was driven home to Adelaide-based GP Dr Chris Moy in an incident where he had to review an unwell patient who had been discharged early from hospital from another state without any information about his condition or follow up.
I was able to find a discharge letter immediately on My Health Record which summarised his admission and required follow up. This was bonus information which I would not otherwise have had access to and it made a significant difference in improving his care.
My Health Record will not be an overnight sensation.
At present, it is very much in its infancy in terms of its benefit. People need to look at My Health Record with a long term view. This is when it will really bloom as a critical tool in improving patient care. It will only be in the future, as it evolves with increasing functions and usability, and more importantly, as the amount of health information about each patient and their history accrues over the years, that we will be able to look with hindsight at the value of My Health Record as an indispensable tool in the everyday care of patients.
It is basically a secure file which contains the current types of important information – discharge letters, medical summaries and test results. These should be available to any doctor or other health provider when they have to see a patient. Currently they don’t because they are hidden away in the computers of GPs and the patient’s other healthcare providers. My Health Record allows a healthcare provider who sees a patient at another, often unforeseen, place and time, to have access to this information which then becomes bonus information they would not otherwise have had. This can be gold in improving the patient’s care and safety.
When all Australians get a My Health Record in 2018 (unless they choose to opt out) it will allow doctors and other healthcare providers to have much better access to patients’ health information.
This will make it easier for patients. They won’t have to recall their medical information. More importantly it will improve patient care because doctors will be able to make better decisions with this information and it will also make patients safer because bad things – like being given medications they might be allergic to – will be less likely to happen.
I find it particularly useful to be able to quickly access documents containing critical pieces of health information about a patient that I would not have had access to without My Health Record, or which may have taken me inordinate amounts of time to chase up.
The Medicines View is invaluable as it summarises the medications found in documents in the My Health Record. More importantly, it allows more rapid access to the source document where a particular medication is mentioned so I can determine the context in which it was prescribed.