Specialists have called for access to a GP-style incentive payment to connect to the nation’s digital health record system.
With specialists’ use of the My Health Record (MHR) system remaining low, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) has called on the government to offer hospital and community-based physicians a “provider readiness” incentive to sign up and participate.
Currently GP practices can access incentive payments of $6.50 per patient up to $50,000 a year if they upload a quota of patient health summaries and meet other e-health readiness requirements.
In a submission to a Senate inquiry into the MHR, the College says specialist physicians should be entitled to a similar payment.
The major benefits of the MHR system will not be realised without specialist buy-in, the RACP says.
“We believe that comparable incentives to what are currently provided to GPs should also be provided to hospital and community-based specialist physicians if the goal is to maximise broad clinician uptake and fully leverage the benefits of MHR.”
Figures released by the Australian Digital Health Agency show that while more five million people have a My Health Record only 263 of 8243 specialist provider organisations (3%) were connected up to the system at the end of 2017. By comparison, 6210 of 9700 (64%) GP practices were connected to the MHR system.
In its submission, the RACP also calls for the opt-out period for the MHR to be extended beyond the current November 15 deadline until several outstanding issues are addressed.
Specialists’ lack of engagement in the MHR is highlighted in other submissions to the Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee’s inquiry.
The Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) says patients were hoping the MHR would help relieve them of the burden having to keep track of test results, scans, medications and other medical information as they move between different healthcare professionals.
However this will only work if all specialists use the system and keep it accurate and up to date, the BCNA says.
“Several [patients] questioned whether records would be updated in practice and discussed their concerns that health professionals may make treatment recommendations based on incomplete information,” the BCNA submission notes.
It highlights feedback from one patient with breast cancer who had registered for a MHR but found it was seldom used by specialists managing her care.
“According to my record, though I had five sessions of chemo, my record showed only one script,” the patient said
“I am concerned that my record won’t be complete. My specialist doesn’t do anything on the internet so I can’t see the point of having a record which isn’t complete. ”
BCNA also called on the government to postpone rollout of the MHR system be postponed until concerns about access, security and privacy are addressed.