The Australian Government is committed to creating an electronic health record, My Health Record.

By St.LukesHealth CEO Paul Lupo

Healthcare Software’s CEO John Elkerton addressed a group of St.LukesHealth employees recently about the emergence of e-health in today’s society, specifically looking at how we currently manage health information and how the best course of treatment for a patient is often overlooked.

Traditionally, our medical providers have worked in clinical silos, meaning a patient’s medical notes are only shared within the area they received treatment.

Yet over the course of our lifetime, we see different medical providers and specialists depending on what we need.  For many of us, our childhood GP is no longer the doctor we turn to when we need our prescriptions filled.

As a consumer, we are left with a fragmented health record that can lead to inefficiencies and complications in our overall health treatment. There is not one single point where we can find information about when we received our tetanus shot, had our blood test done or what medications we are allergic to.

It raises questions as to how health decisions can be made in the absence of a complete record.

If an individual was to be hospitalised, are the treating healthcare professionals aware of that person’s history of medicines, past procedures and other health information?

At discharge, was our GP provided with a summary of our treatment and would they know what medication we are to take from this point on?

This is where e-health has a role to play. Electronic records can, with permission, be shared between health providers and patients, providing a unified record and the potential for decisions to be made in full knowledge of patient past and current health experiences.

The Australian Government is committed to achieving this through its national health record, otherwise known as My Health Record (MyHR), which also means patients can be an active participant in their health care. What this does is enable physicians to provide seamless care and treatment plans whether the patient chooses to undertake this at home or elsewhere.

The information revolution has also delivered smart devices like iPhones, tablets, watches and scales at affordable prices to allow health monitoring in the home. Applications allow us to track our sleeping patterns, set goals around fitness, scan our skin and check fertility. It allows individuals to be proactive in their health, as opposed to managing illness and chronic conditions.

Individuals can now collect and monitor their own data to make informed choices about their health and wellbeing. And the wonderful thing about this is that it is achievable and affordable for people, regardless of their background and financial situation.

These advances can also transition treatment from generic to person-based, centred around the individual and their needs rather than the population at large.

It also means patients will have access to their health information when it suits them rather than when they can get an appointment with their physician.

The landscape of health care is changing. Are you ready to be part of this revolution?