Personal medical records - including prescription history,
laboratory results and personal details - will soon be made
available online to patients and their health care
The online information exchange has already begun in
Wellington, Christchurch and the North Island as far north as
Hamilton. Auckland is next to be included.
The Government has praised the move as a huge step forward to
patient safety and convenience but critics are concerned
information will be shared online without their explicit
consent, as patients' information is automatically included
unless they refuse. Privacy breaches have occurred in the
past, such as last week when a Wellington nurse was found to
have accessed personal and medical records of her
ex-husband's new partner as well as that of her family.
A member of the public, who contacted the Weekend Herald but
asked not to be named, said the Office of the Privacy
Commissioner had told him it understood that anyone with
access to the username and password of a health care member
could access unlimited numbers of patients' medical records.
Privacy Commissioner John Edwards said he was satisfied with
the process, but noted that health consumers should also take
steps to educate themselves about risks and benefits of
sharing their information.
Health Minister Tony Ryall said the system had huge benefits
for the public, and would make processes in the health care
sector much more efficient. "The benefits really are for the
patients and for the quality of the care. Patients don't have
to tell their story to everyone, and it's safer because their
medicines are known to the clinicians. There's huge benefits
in terms of quality and safety and also convenience."
Under the Wellington shared care record, medical records for
thousands of Wellington residents have already been added to
the National Health IT Board's online repository.
The Ministry of Health said the process had been through
stringent security checks and through the privacy
commissioner before its implementation, and the process was
as secure as possible.
- By Holly Ryan of the New Zealand Herald