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6 December 2018
Dr Christine Pascott

I work predominantly with a young adult population who attend our practice during university semesters. During university breaks and after graduation, these patients visit other GPs.

My Health Record has the potential to improve patient care and safety in a fragmented health system by allowing relevant records to be more easily accessed from a central location.

Information sharing between treating health professionals ensures good continuity of care and reduces duplication of service.

For example, students studying in health science fields are required to comply with infection control requirements including being fully vaccinated before having patient contact. Being able to access Australian Immunisation Records and GP vaccination records via My Health Record helps to ensure students don't receive, and pay for, unnecessary vaccinations.

It's this capacity for up-to-date records to be accessible to clinicians and individual patients though My Health Record that has convinced me of its value and potential.

Looking to the future

The My Health Record system’s full value will become more apparent in the coming years when most Australians have a My Health Record.

I am looking forward to spending less time on the phone chasing up radiology and pathology results that have been ordered by other doctors. For these to be more accessible will save time and avoid duplication of tests.

I think for my patients, it will be tremendously helpful to have a record of medications, allergies, medical history and up-to-date results accessible to them and to their healthcare providers.

However, data quality is the key to success.

Presently, we have variable data quality which is dependent on healthcare professionals creating and updating information. This is an ongoing challenge for a workforce kept very busy providing direct healthcare services.

We have more than 3,000 new patients accessing our medical practice each year. Collecting a medical history from each of these individuals is a time consuming endeavour.

As uploading of health information grows and My Health Record becomes increasingly comprehensive, the task of creating an accurate record will become easier for our practice doctors.

The high patient turnover in our practice makes My Health Record a very important tool for continuity of quality, comprehensive clinical care.

As I see it, one of the great benefits of digital health is its capacity to support patients to be actively involved with managing their own health. Wearable technology, access to quality apps and websites as well as using My Health Record all allow an individual to track their health and make positive improvements.

This technology allows us to move towards a more patient-centric model being delivered in more convenient settings for patients. This is ideal for Australians challenged by accessibility problems.

Within our practice we have started to offer telehealth as an alternative to face-to-face contact with our mental health nurses. This means that if a patient isn’t well enough to attend in person, or may not be able to attend for other reasons, they can still access this important support service.

Dr Christine Pascott is a GP and Medical Director at the University of WA, in Perth, leading a team including GPs, nurses, visiting specialists and allied health providers. She provides clinical care with a particular focus on mental healthcare and young adults. Digital health is an increasing part of this clinical practice aimed at improving communication, efficiency and patient care. She is also a Clinical Reference Lead for the Australian Digital Health Agency.