MHR a patchy, incomplete ‘shoebox of pdfs’ despite $2bn investment

3 minute read

Less than 2% of documents uploaded to My Health Record are seen by more than one provider, new Productivity Commission research shows.

Work is urgently needed to address limited coverage and rampant fragmentation of patient data in the My Health Record platform, with only 2% of all uploaded documents seen by more than one health provider, according to a new report from the Productivity Commission. 

The report found the platform remained “plagued by incomplete records and poor usability” despite the federal government investing billions of dollars to support it, with the opt-in model governing MHR use resulting in limited visibility of patient data and disjointed information sharing. 

“MHR contains important gaps – not all consumers opt to have a record, and there is no requirement for clinicians to use the system, leading to patchy coverage of health information,” the commissioners wrote. 

“These gaps, combined with poor usability, constrain the value of MHR for many clinicians, who are often operating under time pressure. 

“MHR has been described as a ‘shoebox of pdfs’, contributing to a significant gap between the records that are uploaded to the system and those that are viewed. 

“If clinicians do not see the value in MHR, they will not use it.” 

Atomising data stored on MHR and increasing incentives for software providers to drive interoperability would be the biggest drivers to increasing the coverage and improving the usability of the platform, the authors said.  

Improving the use of patient data through electronic medical systems nationwide would also drive interoperability and deliver significant cost savings, with $5 billion a year potentially saved by further integrating digital technologies into primary, specialist and hospital systems. 

Universal EMR rollout across all public hospitals was estimated to save $5.4 billion each year by increasing the efficiency of clinical workflows and subsequently reducing the length of hospital stays for patients, as well as providing $355 million in savings through reduced duplication in pathology test and image uploads to EMRs. 

Providing patient consultations via telehealth rather than face-to-face was estimated to have reduced travel expenditure for patients nationwide by around $480 million, including $415 million in savings through reduced GP and specialist waiting room times. 

“Remote care doesn’t [currently] fit neatly within broader funding models,” the authors of the report said. 

“While there are instances of case-by-case funding, pathways for funding remote patient monitoring are limited and the rationale behind what can and cannot be reimbursed is not always apparent.  

Seven-day MHR delay: DoHAC remains ‘committed to collaboration’

Can DoHAC get MHR modernisation measures done in 2024? Not so sure

“Gaps in funding RPM and digital therapeutics mean that practitioners and patients alike may instead opt for subsidised in-person care or forego care, even if that is more costly for the system as a whole in the long run.  

“Funding approaches for these new digital innovations need to strike a balance. These technologies can be highly cost effective. But the benefits depend on the diagnosis, as well as the users’ digital literacy, motivation and supports.” 

Increasing automation in clinical workflows across healthcare through digital technologies and AI was another key area identified for additional investment, with authors estimating around 30% of all tasks currently performed by healthcare workers could be automated, translating to 11 hours saved each week for every healthcare worker nationwide. 

The full report, Leveraging digital technology in healthcare, is available here

End of content

No more pages to load

Log In Register ×