Very few healthcare providers are actually viewing the data held on the My Health Record, even though nearly 40% are regularly sending data to the platform.
Around 10,700 healthcare providers are now registered for My Health Record, but the statistics suggests that only a small fraction are using the system to source clinical data.
Over the past year, only 6.5% of registered health providers viewed at least one My Health Record document each week, while 39% uploaded documents regularly, according to data provided by the Australian Digital Health Agency.
Around 23% of the Australian population is registered for My Health Record, but less than one-third of those registered actually have an electronic health record. But the low number of views did not reflect a lack of desire to use the system, nor show a lack of potential for the system, Dr Andrew Hugman, a senior emergency consultant at Sydney’s Prince of Wales Hospital, said.
“Most emergency department staff don’t yet look at it because there is not enough relevant clinical information loaded into the My Health Record for their patients,” Dr Hugman, who is working with the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care to establish routine use of My Health Record in emergency departments, said.
It was too early to critique My Health Record based on the number of provider views because the system was not completed yet, Dr Hugman said.
“All the relevant parts are being rolled out and it is premature to judge the product until it has been finalised,” he said.
Dr Hugman was confident that the decision to give all Australians a My Health Record by the end of 2018 (unless they chose to opt out) would drive greater use by providers. The ADHA was currently working to build connections between different providers, such as private pathology laboratories, hospitals, GP practices, and radiology, he said.
Dr Bernard Robertson-Dunn, the chair of the health committee at the Australian Privacy Foundation, said the agency was overstating the value of My Health Record by publishing data on registration without reporting the number of times that record had been downloaded for real clinical use.
“It has never said how many times it has been used in an emergency,” he said. “It has never said how much money it has saved. There are no statistics that refer to the benefit or value of the system.”
The ADHA currently does not produce this kind of data, but it does share numerous testimonials attesting to the current and future usefulness of the $2 billion system.
Professor Meredith Makeham, a GP and the chief medical adviser to the ADHA, said My Health Record had already provided clinical benefit in her own practice by making it quicker to source pathology results for patients that received treatment interstate.
In areas where My Health Record has already proceeded to the “opt-out” stage, there are higher rates of provider use, with 82 to 88% of general practices uploading at least one document over the past year.
Dr Chris Goodall, a GP in Cairns, said My Health Record provided information that would otherwise be very difficult to access.
It provided hospital discharge summaries faster than the normal routes, it offered access to information about medications for patients travelling to Queensland on holiday, and it eliminated the slow process of seeking authorisation and having medical information faxed through, Dr Goodall said.
“I’ve certainly used it quite a lot,” he said. “I know doctors in my practice do.”
But some GPs did not yet see the value of My Health Record and were only uploading data because of the ePIP financial incentive, Dr Goodall added.
But he was convinced that once doctors started to use the system regularly they would be “converted”.
GPs would have to get into the habit of uploading health summaries, but it was relatively easy to integrate My Health Record updates into consultations, he said. “It is probably five clicks of the mouse. It takes literally 40 seconds [per patient].”