Patients of all ages can benefit from a My Health Record

The health needs of babies and retirees couldn't be more different but they do have one thing in common: the immediate benefits from having a My Health Record.

Both groups of patients are being targeted and signed up for their My Health Record at Victoria's East Geelong Medical Centre by Practice Nurse Tracey Wilson and her nursing colleagues.

"Nurses do the over-75-year-old's health assessments and this is a really good demographic to get on board for their digital health records," Ms Wilson said. "A lot are travelling to escape our winter so they are really keen to sign up. It means if anything happens to them, another doctor will be able to access the My Health Record system and find out their history and medications."

"The nurses are actively recruiting patients to register for their My Health Record when older people come in for their annual flu shots or their annual health assessment. We find there are lots of opportunities to create a record or update their summary.

"We also talk to patients about including their advanced care plans [for end of life] which will eventually be accessible in the system", she said. Many older people want to make their wishes regarding their end of life plans available to healthcare professionals.

"But at the other end of the spectrum we also actively target newborns. Sometimes parents don't keep the record book of their children's immunisations but the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR) can be uploaded to a child's eHealth record and that's a really useful thing."

Ms Wilson, who is also a surveyor with Australian General Practice Accreditation Limited and a part-time diabetes educator, said: "At our practice in East Geelong, the uploading of Shared Health Summaries is mainly being driven by the nurses rather than the GPs."

Ms Wilson said the five nurses at her clinic had been trained to upload Shared Health Summaries, and these are checked with the patients before they're uploaded.

She said for the My Health Record System to be seamlessly integrated into the day-to-day running of the practice having one person who is a 'champion' or a go-to person has been helpful.

"I have had a passion about it so I have led the way in the practice and made it a priority.

"It wasn't easy to get started but there has been constant changes and improvements to the system and it has become more streamlined and user-friendly," she said. "Even in the short time I've been involved, it's developed and the usability has improved and that's really encouraging."

"I believe there will be greater patient benefits eventually but more people have got to be using the system and putting in clean data."

"The bottom line is the My Health Record gives you a better patient outcome.

"And by and large most patients who you talk to say: that's a great idea, sign me up! Many have not heard of it but when it is explained there are no objections.

"They all agree that having that small snippet of their health record available is a really good thing. I don't think I have had one person say no."

Need help with implementing digital health and the My Health Record system in your practice? Call Customer Care on 1300 901 001 or email [email protected]

This first appeared in the Australian Practice Nurses Association Primary Times, Volume 15, Issue 2.