AMA calls for freeze on data upload penalties

3 minute read

The AMA is demanding a freeze on penalties for practices that fail to upload a set number of health summaries


The AMA is demanding a freeze on penalties for general practices that fail to upload a set number of patient health summaries to the troubled-plagued My Health Record system.

Less than a quarter of practices surveyed indicated they would be able to comply with new rules requiring them to upload 0.5% of patients’ health summaries each quarter or lose the newly branded Digital Health Incentive PIP.

AMA President Dr Michael Gannon, said this was grossly unfair because of substantial flaws in the My Health Record that compromised its clinical usefulness.

“The AMA has strongly backed the introduction of a national e-health record because of the real benefits it could provide for patient care,” Dr Gannon said.

But the government needed to fix the shortcomings before trying to foist the system on patients and practices.

The peak body has written to Health Minister Sussan Ley and Shadow Health Minister Catherine King urging them to commit suspending the rules.

In an AMA survey, 24% of practices said they could comply with the rules, but 39.5% said they could not and 36% were unsure. Those that could not comply estimated average losses of $23,400 a year in PIP payments.

With GPs already pushed to the brink by the MBS rebate freeze, the last thing they needed was to have thousands more dollars ripped away because of a flawed process, Dr Gannon said.

In a revised position paper on shared electronic medical records, the AMA outlines a string of challenges for medicine entering the digital age.

It notes the potential for doctors to be swamped with data overload, making it “unnecessarily time-consuming, if not impossible, to become aware of and able to retrieve important clinical information”.

“Medical practitioners acting in good faith should be protected if they miss or are unable to locate critical data because it is buried in a sea of electronic documents and they could not have reasonably been expected to find it readily.”

The paper says “person-controlled” e-records could encourage patients to take responsibility for their health and provide doctors with additional information.

But in general, patients would be unlikely to be able to accurately understand clinical information, while clinicians must have certainty that shared EMRs contained predictable core clinical information which was not affected or qualified by access controls.

The AMA wants a simple consent mechanism to authorise doctors to access a patient’s EMR, and where specific information was withheld, a “red flag” to indicate some data was unavailable for general view.

“In the interests of the patient in emergency situations, the AMA recognises that implied consent must sometimes be assumed to allow access to the full EMR,” the paper says.

“Audit provisions would apply and patients would be notified when emergency access has occurred in emergency ‘break glass’ situations.”

In sharing EMRs, doctors would also need to remember that not all information might be included, especially in the development phase, that some information might be subject to patient controls, and that documents might contain the same errors and omissions as current paper documents, the paper says.

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