The Department of Health and Ageing has settled on the Federal Government’s single sign-on portal as the primary method of accessing consumer e-health records when they are made available later this year.
Consumers who opt for a personally controlled electronic health record from July 1 will be required to link their record to their login credentials on the australia.gov.au online portal in order to access the record online.
The e-health records portal itself will be hosted by the department, the designated systems operator for the project.
The Department of Health and the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) have considered use of the single sign-on service as one option for accessing e-health records for some months.
Mention of the service online portal was raised in an initial concept of operations for the record system in September last year.
Other methods had also been considered, including a generic URL specific to the PCEHR program and allowing individual portal operators and health insurance companies to provide their own login portal for the consumer records.
However, NEHTA chief technical architect Steve Burmester told a Terrapinn conference this week that the e-health body was looking to reduce the number of end-points the government agency would have to protect against.
“There are a number of threat vectors that we can mitigate... you do need some form of digital certificate,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health told iTnews the choice to use the Australian Government Online Service Portal (AGOSP) program was in keeping with “Government policy to optimise the access to Australian Government on-line systems”.
“Australia.gov.au will increasingly become the authentication/single sign-on system for other Australian Government line systems,” she said.
To date, however, the $42.4 million program has failed to attract significant government interest since launching in 2009.
Though administered by the Department of Finance and Deregulation, key elements of the program are controlled by the Department of Human Service which has primarily used the service to consolidate access to online Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support services.
The addition of access to the PCEHR initiative marks only the second major government department to agree to use the service.
Former DHS chief information officer, John Wadeson, had suggested the Australian Tax Office could be also be a candidate for use of the portal but a spokeswoman for the Department of Finance would not confirm other discussions beyond existing participants.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Finance said the Government was “preparing to engage with a very significant number of Australian citizens” over the log-in portal through the DHS and DoHA services.