e-Health identifiers for Australians to be allocated next week

The new Australian electronic healthcare database service has been on the cards for a while now. The legislation that flags off this scheme passed in the federal parliament and may be implemented next week on 1st July. This will ensure that every Australian is given a unique healthcare identification number. Doctors, hospitals, healthcare organisations and allied health providers will receive similar identifiers.

Both bills [Healthcare Identifiers Bill 2010 and Healthcare Identifiers (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2010] were passed with government amendments.

The automatically assigned 16-digit identifiers will store a patient's name, address and date of birth only and allow tracking a person’s complete health records including ailments, medications, immunizations and previous test results. Labor has planned to roll out $467 million towards the e-health records from mid-2012. After initial concerns raised by critics regarding the confidentiality and public access to records, amendments have been made to the system. Now patients will be able to choose whether they wish to have an e-health record. The Identifier number will be assigned to everyone.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon said late Thursday night, “This [the Identifier legislation] is a key building block in the government's ambitious e-health reform agenda - helping to deliver a better, more streamlined health system for Australian families…Healthcare identifiers will improve the management and communication of health information for healthcare delivery.” She also revealed that the identifier numbers will be allocated by the Healthcare Identifiers Service, which is operated by Medicare Australia.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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