myHealth pilots begin in Qld, brand confusion looms in NSW

By Stephen Easton

Monday February 1, 2016

The first pilot of re-jigged and renamed national e-health records is just beginning within the North Queensland Primary Health Network, following “implementation consultation” sessions run last week by state and federal health officials with a wide range of health experts from acute and primary care.

But when the next pilot rolls out, some New South Wales residents could be confused by the existence of a separate, unrelated “My Health Record” tool dispensed by the state government for over a decade.

All 670,000-odd residents of the North Queensland area will be issued a “myHealth Record” — formerly known as the Personally Controlled E-Health Record — unless they opt out.

Staff from NQPHN and the Department of Health’s digital division ran information sessions in Cairns for general practitioners, mental health and allied health professionals, tropical disease experts and Aboriginal medical services, as well as a “rural forum” in the nearby inland centre of Mareeba.

They were accompanied by consultants from Siggins Miller, which won a $1.4 million contract to review and evaluate the pilots.

The primary health network’s chair Trent Twomey says the organisation is looking forward to working with local hospital and other health services on strengthening links between acute and primary care. The massive area was an “ideal” choice of pilot site, he added:

“We are the fourth-largest PHN in terms of geographical size, and the rural and remote nature of our region reinforces the need for a functional electronic health system.

“It’s a huge opportunity to tangibly and meaningfully improve the connectedness of care for our community, especially in improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“We’re looking forward to play a key role in improving the flow of information, decreasing duplication, and helping doctors and pharmacists make more informed decisions that will lead to better patient outcomes.”

A second pilot site is slated to begin in July in the Nepean Blue Mountains PHN in NSW, where interestingly, the state government has offered an almost identically branded product since 2002.

NSW Health describes its own “My Health Record” as a “tool to help people keep all their important health information together in one place” but in the form of “a sturdy booklet” rather than an electronic platform.

Adding to the confusion, Health Minister Sussan Ley seemed to have further refined the former PCEHR’s new brand by dropping an upper case letter and a space last May, but this slight adjustment was absent from a more recent media release and is not used by her department’s dedicated website for the program either.

It’s not the first time the federal health portfolio has suffered from a dearth of creativity in branding. When Medicare Locals were changed to Primary Health Networks last year, a legal challenge from a company of the same name swiftly followed.

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