NSW medical records go online
18:23 AEST Sun May 16 2004
Patients across NSW may soon be able to access their full medical records online.
Health professionals - including GPs, specialists and emergency department clinicians - also will be able to see a patient's detailed medical history after a few clicks of the mouse.
Under a $19.4 million pilot program, Health e-link, the health system would be safer and more efficient because all clinicians could access the same information about their patients, NSW Health Minister Morris Iemma said.
The groundbreaking program would be piloted at the Children's Hospital at Westmead and with patients at Maitland and Raymond Terrace in the Hunter Valley, with a view to eventually delivering a state-wide electronic health record system.
The NSW project was also a trial site for the national online health records system, HealthConnect, along with Tasmania, Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory.
Medical records currently were stored in separate systems across GPs, hospitals, emergency departments, outpatients' clinics, diagnostic units and specialists' rooms, Mr Iemma said.
A clinician therefore could access only those records stored in their own files, while access for patients was extremely limited.
With Health e-link, clinicians and patients in NSW could retrieve information including prescriptions issued, blood test results, X-rays and hospital discharge notes.
"Tests won't have to be repeated unless absolutely needed, nor will patients and carers have to recall from memory all aspects of care they received in the past," Mr Iemma said in a statement.
"This new system means that whenever a patient visits the local doctor, the emergency department or a specialist, all members of the health care team will have access to the same records.
"Illegible and incomplete handwritten medical records can lead to mistakes being made and these are removed in Health e-link."
The system would be password protected for security, and every patient would have a unique patient number.
Individuals could access only their own personal information.