Consumers Reject AMA's Demand for Total Doctor Control of eHealth Records

By Petrina Smith
Wednesday, 27 November, 2013

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The Australian Medical Association's (AMA) demand for total doctor control of ehealth records has been met with rejection by the Consumer Health Forum (CHF).

CHF spokesperson Mark Metheell said “the Australia Medical Association’s demand for total doctor control of ehealth records is a refusal to accept that the world has moved on from the “secret doctors’ business” of paper-based records that patients rarely see. “We reject the Australian Medical Association’s view that personal control of ehealth records need interfere with good medical practice.  Having the patient play an active role in their health records should be a plus for patient outcomes.

“There is strong evidence that a well-informed patient is likely to have better outcomes than patients who are left in the dark by doctors.  “Research and worldwide experience shows improved communication between clinicians and consumers contributes to both increased adherence to treatment regimes,  improves long-term health outcomes, increases patient satisfaction, means faster recovery, reduces emotional distress, leads to a lower level of pain relief and in some cases a reduced length of stay in hospital."

The CHF says current patient controls are not extreme - they just enable patients to decide what information about them goes onto the record. The group also says patient control  means consumers are able to provide their own information they think is important for health professionals to know about.

CHF does, however, support the AMA’s call for an opt-out system. "That would require individuals to take active steps to exclude themselves from the ehealth record system. “International experience shows the opt-out option would lead more quickly to  comprehensive take-up and ensure health care  consumers with complex needs are more likely to get the benefits of more accurate and accessible health records. “But the opt-out provision makes it even more important for the consumer and patient to have the power to control what goes on the record.

“It is time for the medical profession to catch up with the rest of the world and harness the power of information technology for the good of their patients and nation’s health system,” Mr Metherell said.

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