Launch of new Australian Medicare smartcard

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The new Australian Medicare smartcard was launched in Launceston, Tasmania this week.

The Medicare smartcard will give people access to their organ donor records, childhood immunisation records, Medicare safety net status and PBS expenditure data as well as provide access to standard Medicare services in the normal way.

The smartcard will operate in conjunction with HealthConnect – a secure, IT-based integrated health record which will give treating health professionals access to information about procedures, treatments and tests (with patient permission) and which will give patients more control over their health records.

Registration for the new smartcard begins in Tasmania today. Later this year, kiosks equipped with smartcard readers will be available in all Tasmanian Medicare offices. Within 18 months, should they wish, Tasmanians will be able to access their health records from home via a secure internet link.

Registration for the Medicare smartcard will flag an individuals future participation in HealthConnect. Patients who do not wish to be part of HealthConnect can continue to use their existing Medicare cards and access medical services and Medicare rebates in the normal way.

The Medicare smartcard is the latest demonstration of the Government’s commitment to using better information to deliver better quality health services.

About 3600 hospital deaths per year are attributed, in part, to inadequate health information. At least some of those deaths could be avoided if treating health professionals had better access to their patients’ records. As well, patients could be spared large numbers of duplicated tests and procedures.

Tasmanians who want to register for the Medicare smartcard can visit their local Medicare office. They will need to take evidence-of-identity documents along with them.

Tasmanians wanting more information about Medicare smartcard can phone 1300 850 155 or visit their local Medicare office.

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