Friday, 14 May 2010

E-health move will not be held back by privacy worries, NSW Health says

Health officials advice people worried about privacy issues related to the use of electronic health and medical records to not be doubtful as the real health advantages far exceed the little potential drawbacks.

The deputy director-general of NSW Health, Dr Tim Smyth said the state is working actively on the introduction of e-medical records and is going for a business case to provide electronic prescribing service.

Dr Smyth regards privacy worries related to electronic medical records are overemphasized and can trigger unnecessary concerns.

He said, "I've never seen privacy as an obstacle and it's often used as an excused by some players not to do anything."

He said in a speech at an e-health forum in Sydney, people often confused privacy which is data a person wants other people to know, with the security of that information.

Dr Smyth said, "Being able to transfer information is critical (and) e-health has the potential to reduce errors."

With Healthelink, health records are only accessible by authorized health care providers under the signed contract to "respect the privacy of records and to maintain confidentiality of the information".

David Roffe, CIO of St Vincent's & Mater Health Sydney said people in chronic care usually want to share their health information.

He sad e-health systems for the management of medication cut down errors and NEHTA-compliant secure messaging is the way forward.Adam Powick, consultant of Delloitte e-health stated, "People place a great deal of trust in the health system and for good reason."

The use of passwords, with regard to information security remains a concern, said Dr Smyth, as NSW doctors who moved, for example, from Blacktown hospital to another in the city have to change their passwords due to different systems operated, and he is working to get the issue solved.

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