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Rural town leads in online health service

The New South Wales town of Berrigan has been identified as the first Australian township to have all health and aged care services connected to the My Health Record system.

MHR acts as a secure online summary of a resident's health information, and aims to improve healthcare, processes and awareness, particularly in rural and remote areas.

The Australian Digital Health Agency and the Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network (MPHN) found that every Berrigan resident in the local aged care facility had an active My Health Record account, as well as 50 per cent of the overall population.

MPHN acting chief executive Melissa Neal said she was not surprised that a rural community of just 950 people was leading the way towards improved health services.

“In my experience, small rural communities have an inspiring sense of community spirit and connectedness," she said. "This achievement for Berrigan demonstrates the town’s community strength, the foresight of the local health professionals and the town’s willingness to uptake digital health technology."

Berrigan resident Damien Taylor relied on My Health Record when his daughter Maggie needed open-heart surgery for a congenital heart defect.

“While my wife and I were going through this traumatic time with Maggie, her important health information like medicines, conditions and hospital stay information were being captured in her My Health Record," he said.

"We are so pleased it has. The long term benefits of having this record mean we won’t need to keep hard copy records and try and remember everything at each medical appointment in the future."

Australian Digital Health Agency chief executive Tim Kelsey congratulated the the Berrigan community on its commitment to digital health innovation.

“This is digital health innovation at its very best and it demonstrates that it doesn’t matter where in Australia you live, as a consumer and a provider you should have your health records in the palm of your hand," he said.

“The Australian Medical Association has said that the My Health Record is the future of modern medicine in Australia. The fact that a small rural town is the first to be fully connected instantly demonstrates the fundamental human value that digital health provides in terms of improving health care access and equity to all Australians, no matter where they live.

“We are well aware of the issues that patients face in rural communities: access to services is often difficult and digital health innovation can make a huge difference to the care of all, particularly those with complex and chronic needs."

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