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Another step towards e-health records

Identifier legislation passes parliament

Every Australian will be given an individual healthcare identification number from this week after the federal parliament passed legislation giving the scheme the green light.

The government amended its draft laws last Thursday in response to concerns raised earlier this year by a Senate committee.

The automatically assigned 16-digit identifiers will store a patient’s name, address and date of birth only.

They’ll allow the government to introduce electronic health records down the track. The government set aside $467 million in the budget to roll out e-health records from mid-2012.

Patients will be able to choose themselves whether or not to have an e-health record – unlike the identification number.

The records could list the medication they’re using, along with previous test results and immunisations.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon welcomed passage of the identifier legislation.

“This is a key building block in the government’s ambitious e-health reform agenda – helping to deliver a better, more streamlined health system for Australian families,” she said.

“Healthcare identifiers will improve the management and communication of health information for healthcare delivery.”

Roxon said the unique healthcare identifiers will be allocated by the Healthcare Identifiers Service, which is operated by Medicare Australia.

AAP

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