All Australians are likely to get an automatic e-health record

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All Australians are likely to get an automatic e-health record

Trial figures back case for opt-out.

Results of the federal government's trial of an opt-out electronic medical records suggest it is likely to go ahead with a national rollout of the controversial approach.

The Department of Health early last year started testing the opt-out allocation of health records with the Northern Queensland and Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Networks (PHNs).

The approach was designed to turn around poor adoption rates faced by the e-health records scheme since it went live in 2012.

Under the trial, 971,000 individuals were automatically signed up for a My Health Record.

Residents of the two locations were set up with an account using names, addresses, and health identification numbers pulled out of the Medicare database, unless they contacted the Department of Health to say they didn't wish to participate.

The intention of the trial was to work out whether customers were happy to have a record automatically created for them, and whether the opt-out approach would increase healthcare providers' use of the system.

The trials wrapped up at the end of October.

Late last year the Health department quietly confirmed that just 1.9 percent of the 971,000 individuals involved in the trial - equal to 22,420 people - asked not to have a record created for them.

The department said the low rate was in line with international experience.

While the department said it would not make a decision to proceed with a national rollout of the opt-out approach until it had considered a report by independent evaluator Siggins Miller, the 1.9 percent figure affirms its thinking on an opt-out approach.

The government has already introduced a bill to enable the automatic creation of e-health records for all Australians, following its redesign of the former personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) project.

"The opt-out rate of 1.9 percent is a good indication of community acceptance of the opt-out approach in these trials," a spokesperson for the Health department said.

"[However] any decision about participation arrangements for the My Health Record will be a decision of government.

"The trials evaluation report is currently being considered by the government [and] will inform future government decisions for bringing forward the benefits of the My Health Record nationally, including whether to adopt an opt-out system nationally. "

It said there are no current plans to conduct further trials of the opt-out approach.

Around 706,000 individuals have voluntarily registered to the My Health Record system since March last year, bringing the total number of people with an e-health record to 4.32 million.

Around 9326 healthcare organisations are currently registered to use the system.

The government has spent $1.15 billion from 2009-10 to last June on the platform, covering its infrastructure development, implementation, and ongoing operation.

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