Australia

Experts say My Health Record is outdated and other countries have abandoned similar systems

The Federal Government is being urged to shelve its digital health database and start again.

According to a leading surgeon and a medical technology developer, the My Health Record digital database is substandard and out of date.

Medical tech entrepreneur Rafic Habib was optimistic My Health Record could have helped revolutionise healthcare, if it were not using old technology.

He explained the database is built using clinical document architecture (CDA), which is basically a standard structure for healthcare documents — like hospital discharge summaries and medical records — that makes it possible to share these records more easily between providers and patients.

Rafic Habib, CEO of Clinic to Cloud, during an interview

Mr Habib said CDA is at least 10 years out of date.

"There's a different methodology to connect platforms and applications to each other," he said.

"Why did we end up with something like CDA, which is quite rigid and cumbersome in the way you connect and the way you talk to it?"

'There was a reason other countries got rid of it'

Leading head and neck cancer surgeon Elizabeth Sigston also wants to see My Health Record overhauled.

She told the ABC's AM program it is not adequate in terms of healthcare provision or privacy, and she has personally opted out of it.

Dr Sigston wants a guarantee the system will never be privatised.

And she has particular concerns about the introduction of data release and sharing legislation which will allow the government to share people's administrative data.

Head and neck cancer surgeon Elizabeth Sigston gestures during a talk

"We know health data is considered to be the gold of the future," she told AM.

"And whilst it's safe to say in the legislation at the moment that people aren't able to make money from the data that's in My Health Record, who's to say that that's going to be the same down the track?"

The United Kingdom abandoned a similar system in 2016, when it was found that companies were able to buy information related to patients' health conditions.

"I appreciate that we've invested a lot of money and resource into this," Dr Sigston said.

"But there was a reason that other countries got rid of this platform and we really should be looking to them as an example."

The Digital Health Agency, charged with running the My Health Record system, stands by the database.

"My Health Record isn't the absolute answer to all of our issues," their Chief Medical Advisor, Dr Meredith Makeham, told AM.

"But it goes a very long way to solving some of the everyday problems that GPs like myself face when we can't get access to information, and the patient we need to help is sitting in front of us."

Original Article