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19 August, 2018 - 12:00

People living in rural and remote areas around Australia are being encouraged to create their own My Health Record and test it out during the extended opt out period which now ends on November 15.

Rural and regional Australians stand to benefit the most from having a My Health Record as they have higher exposure to health risks and injury, experience higher levels of disease and have less access to and use of health services compared to people in metropolitan areas.

My Health Record is an online summary of a person’s key health information. It allows them to share and control their health information with doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers from anywhere, at any time.

The National Rural Health Alliance joined the Australian Digital Health Agency today to encourage rural and regional Australians to create a My Health Record and test it themselves during the extended opt out period.

CEO of the peak rural health body, Mark Diamond joined South Australian farmer Ian Gillies and his GP and My Health Record advocate Dr Chris Moy, in urging rural and regional Australians to test it for themselves.

“Having a My Health Record can be a real life saver for people in the bush who don’t always have easy access to healthcare services,” said Mr Diamond.

“My Health Record offers compelling health benefits, especially for people living in rural and remote areas so it makes sense for people to at least try it before deciding if it is right for them.

“Australians living in rural and remote areas are more likely to end up in an emergency department from a heart attack, car accident or diabetic coma. If they’re unconscious, and the medical team doesn’t have access to their health history, the team may not be able to provide life-saving care.

“If people have hesitations, they should at least test My Health Record themselves during the extended opt out window period as they can always cancel it by 15 November if they’re still not convinced of the benefits.”

According to the National Rural Health Alliance, country people are 25 per cent more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease. They are 40 per cent more likely to die from diabetes, and they are five times as likely to die from a road accident in remote areas. People living in remote and very remote areas generally have poorer access to, and use of, health services than people in regional areas and major cities. They also have lower rates of bowel cancer screening, higher rates of potentially avoidable hospital admissions, and lower access to selected hospital procedures.

Ian Gillies is a farmer at Yankalilla, south of Adelaide, who served in the Royal New Zealand Air Force. Ian regularly uses My Health Record, having been in and out of hospital. He compares My Health Record with his time in the aviation industry where all planes had a maintenance log to ensure they operated safely.

“Record keeping has been in the aviation industry ever since it started – every plane has its own maintenance log with it and it is a perfect system,” said Mr Gillies.

“When my Doctor told me about My Health Record, he didn’t have to sell me at all. It provides an opportunity for both myself and my Doctors to have my health issues, treatment and medicines in the one place.

“Like aircraft maintenance data, My Health Record gives you and your healthcare providers the power to immediately investigate what’s happening and what may need special attention.”

Mr Gillies’ GP, Dr Chris Moy today welcomed the support of the National Rural Health Alliance and Ian Gillies.

“My Health Record can be a real help for people living in remote areas who may need to travel long distances or move to attend health services or receive specialised treatment,” said Dr Moy, who is also a Clinical Reference Lead for My Health Record.

“It gives rural patients like Ian Gillies control over their own health management, providing greater remote support which can also help reducing duplication of tests and unnecessary long journeys.

“My Health Record aims to deliver better healthcare outcomes and safer care for people. It will reduce harm caused by medication errors because people and their healthcare providers will have access to important information about medicines and allergies. This could save your life in an emergency.”

Australians can manage privacy and control access to their My Health Record including what information gets uploaded and who has access such as family members, carers and healthcare providers.

By the end of 2018, a My Health Record will be created for every Australian, unless they choose not to have one. If people choose not to have a My Health Record, they will be able to opt out of having one created for them before 15 November 2018.

More than 6 million Australians already have a My Health Record and 13,150 healthcare professional organisations are connected, including general practices, hospitals, pharmacies, diagnostic imaging and pathology practices. The My Health Record is already making healthcare management for individuals and healthcare providers easier and safer, and could save lives in an emergency situation.

The National Rural Health Alliance represents 35 national organisations working across the rural and remote health sector.  Members include the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), Australian College of Nursing and the Country Women’s Association of Australia. The Alliance members’ activity impacts the lives of some 7 million Australians across the country.

More information on My Health Record can be found at www.myhealthrecord.gov.au. People who do not want a My Health Record can opt out by visiting the My Health Record website or by calling 1800 723 471 for phone-based assistance. Additional support is available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, people from non‐English speaking backgrounds, people with limited digital literacy, and those living in rural and remote regions.

ENDS

 

Media team contacts

Mobile: 0428 772 421                         
Email: media [at] digitalhealth.gov.au    

About the Australian Digital Health Agency

The Agency is tasked with improving health outcomes for all Australians through the delivery of digital healthcare systems, and implementing Australia’s National Digital Health Strategy – Safe, Seamless, and Secure: evolving health and care to meet the needs of modern Australia in collaboration with partners across the community. The Agency is the System Operator of My Health Record, and provides leadership, coordination, and delivery of a collaborative and innovative approach to utilising technology to support and enhance a clinically safe and connected national health system. These improvements will give individuals more control of their health and their health information, and support healthcare providers to deliver informed healthcare through access to current clinical and treatment information. Further information: www.digitalhealth.gov.au.