The way Australians' medical data is handled is changing, and information sessions are being held around the Murraylands this month to tell people about it.
My Health Record is an online database which brings together information from other sources, such as Medicare, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, the organ donor register and the Australian Immunisation Register.
It also provides space for medical professionals to add a shared health summary – a document useful to any new doctors or medical practices you may visit – as well as hospital discharge reports, test and scan results and other documents.
If enough information is uploaded, the record should be able to help doctors, nurses and others care for patients in an emergency, though it is not intended to be a complete medical history.
Instead, said Sarah Wiles, the presenter at an information session in Murray Bridge this afternoon, it would improve record-keeping, give people more control over their own information and help ensure people were prescribed the right amounts of the right medication.
Medication mis-management cost the nation $1.6 billion per year in otherwise unnecessary hospital expenses, she said, and unnecessary duplication cost $1.2 billion.
Data from My Health Record would also help governments allocate funding to health services, she said.
"This is going to be a substantial benefit to all of us an our economy," she said.
She demonstrated how a user to grant medical records access to a family member; aside from that, she said, the only people who could access records were the people directly involved in a patient's care.
The data will be protected by the Australian Cyber Security Agency.
Only four people attended the afternoon session in Murray Bridge, which was not widely advertised.
Among them were local couple Don and Mary Manuel, who were reassured.
"I think it's a great idea," Mrs Manuel said afterwards.
"I was a bit dubious about who was going to be able to access the information, but I think that's been answered.
"I'm quite happy to stay in it."
About 5.9 million Australians already have a My Health Record, including most young children.
The record-keeping system was introduced as an opt-in system called the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record on July 1, 2012; Australia's state and federal governments agreed to change to an opt-out system in August 2017.
The change has the support of the Australian Medical Association and Royal College of Australian GPs as well as peak organisations representing chemist stores, pharmacists, public hospitals and health industry consumers.
Every Australian will automatically have a My Health Record created in his or her name after October 15 unless he or she opts out.
- Opt out: Visit myhealthrecord.gov.au or call 1800 723 471.
- More information: Attend a session at Murray Bridge Town Hall at 7pm tonight; Tailem Bend Community Centre at 10.30am or 1.30pm tomorrow; Tailem Bend Football Club at 7pm tomorrow, Mannum Motel at 10.30am, 1.30pm or 7pm on Wednesday; Lameroo Sports Club at 4pm or 7pm on Wednesday; or Strathalbyn Community Centre at 10.30am, 1pm, 3pm or 7pm on August 16.