Australia's first opt-out e-health site to start trials this week

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Australia's first opt-out e-health site to start trials this week

More than 670,000 northern Queenslanders first in line.

One of the two Australian health networks nominated to be the first to trial the government's plans for opt-out medical records will start testing the approach this week.

The Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN) was last year named as one of two sites, alongside the Nepean Blue Mountains PHN, to automatically sign locals up for a 'My Health Record'.

Combined, the two trial sites will see the new opt-out approach tested on around one million individuals at a cost of $51 million. Evaluation firm Siggins Miller has been given a $1.4 million contract to review the trials once they are complete.

Residents of the two locations will have My Health Record accounts set up for them by default using names, addresses and health identification numbers pulled out of the Medicare database.

On Wednesday and Thursday this week, Department of Health and NQPHN officials and staff from Siggins Miller will visit Cairns and the Tablelands to begin the first stage of public consultation on the implementation plan.

“These sessions with the Department of Health’s digital health division will be an opportunity for health industry experts and community members to share their valuable insight and feedback about our region’s needs and ways in which allied health can interact with My Health Record," NQPHN chairman Trent Twomey said in a statement.

“Their feedback will directly inform the implementation plan and delivery of My Health Record.

“It’s a special opportunity to run the trial, which will begin this year and affect about 670,000 people in North Queensland – it’s a significant achievement for the region."

Nepean Blue Mountains PHN is yet to begin its own trial.

A spokesperson said it commenced planning for the trial in December and had established a clinical steering committee, and would work hard to ensure its healthcare professionals were ready for the July trial commencement date set by the government.


The trials will allow the Health department to test how it communicates the new approach, and removes those who choose to opt out, prior to a national rollout.

The government has already introduced a bill to enable the automatic creation of e-health records for all Australians, following its reworking of the former personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) project. The overhaul is expected to cost around $485 million.

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