I read with great interest the words of National e-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) chief executive Peter Flemming quoted in Australian IT on 13 October which indicated that the original vision of a single e-health record system had been abandoned in favour of "person-controlled" records that could be adopted more quickly.
The article quotes Flemming, "Five years ago, there was a strong view that there would be an e-health record for all Australians held on a massive database somewhere," he told the Medical Software Industry Association conference in Sydney last week. "That's no longer the view".
"When and if the e-health record is approved, we'll enter into detailed planning around the architecture, but undoubtedly people will have an option to choose health records from a range of sources and their medical information will be stored in a number of locations."
This resonated loudly with the conclusions that The Health Information Exchange sub-committee of the Australian National Consultative Committee on e-Health had reached in its work on e-health information exchange.
It became clear from our deliberations, which took into account best practice and thinking world wide, that a person-controlled record was not only the most speedy and cost effective solution, but that it was also the most likely to achieve consumer acceptance.
Could it be that Australia is finally on a path that will lead us forward on the e-health agenda after all the false starts we have encountered over the last decade?
Robin McKenzie is Principal Consultant with Information Integrity Solutions Pty Ltd. Before joining IIS in 2005 she held a senior position with the federal Office of the Privacy Commissioner. Between 1994 and 1999 Robin was a partner in a consulting company that conducted review, evaluation and research projects, including for the Family Court of Australia, the NSW Law Reform Commission, NSW Attorney General's Department, the federal department administering childcare funding programs, and Blake Dawson Waldron. Before that she worked with the Australian Law Reform Commission for five years. Robin has a law degree and an honours arts degree majoring in social anthropology and was admitted to practice as a Barrister and Solicitor in the Supreme Court of South Australia.