It’s been a bad week for the country’s second-largest pathology provider.
Pathology provider Healius is putting patients at “increased clinical risk” by withholding patient data from the central My Health Record digital platform, says federal Health Minister Mark Butler.
Up until 12 September, Healius was uploading around 800,000 pathology reports a week, about 30% of all results nationwide, but since that date has stopped doing so.
According to the AFR, there was a significant drop-off in uploading in August, resulting in as many as three million fewer results sent to the MHR site.
The federal government has announced plans to require pathology and diagnostic imaging reports to be uploaded by default by December 2024.
The DoHAC has asked Healius to resume uploading results immediately, while Mr Butler said a failure to do so was “unacceptable”.
“This refusal to upload to My Health Record puts patients at increased clinical risk and results in more unnecessary and costly tests for people,” he said.
“If a patient gets a diagnostic scan or pathology test, then those results should be uploaded.”
It’s been a troubling time for Healius with chair of the board Jenny Macdonald confirming she would step down from the role after failing to win enough proxy votes to secure her re-election. The company’s share price dropped to a 24-year low before recovering to $1.33 on Monday.
Mr Butler said patients were spending more than necessary because test results were not being provided to the central record.
“Patients find this so frustrating, because every lost test result means another day off work, another waiting room, another procedure and yet another gap fee,” he said.
“What a waste of time and money for patients and for the health system.”
A Healius spokesman was quoted by the AFR as saying: “We understand the government’s digital health agenda and are talking to the government about the need for sustainable funding arrangements for pathology.
“We will continue those talks in coming weeks to support the delivery of first class primary and clinical care to Australians.”
Between 2018 and 2022, Healius received $480,000 from the Australian Digital Health Agency to help fund technical connectivity with the My Health Record system.