Health & Lifestyle

Australian Digital Health Agency Announces first My Health Record Connected Town

The rural community of Berrigan in NSW has become the first town in Australia where all key healthcare providers are connected and using My Health Record.

Currently, over 5.5 million Australians have a My Health Record. The Commonwealth Government is investing A$374.2 million over the next two years for the nationwide rollout of an opt-out model of My Health Record. The objective is to ensure that every Australian will have a My Health Record created for them by December 2018, unless they choose not to have one during the three-month opt out period.

The Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) and the Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network (MPHN) identified Berrigan, a town in the Riverina region of New South Wales with a population of around 950 people, as the first town in Australia where the local general practice, pharmacy, aged care centres, and the local hospital are all connected to the system. Additionally, over 50% of the town’s population, and every resident in the aged care facility has an active My Health Record.

Shared Health Summaries, Prescription and Dispense uploads are above average in Berrigan and the Practice Nurses in General Practice have a particular interest in Advance Care plans and in assisting in uploading them to a patient’s My Health Record.

The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Member for Farrer, representing Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, and the Minister for Rural Health, Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie, said people in rural and remote areas of Australia need to be able to have their important health information when they receive care.

“My Health Record allows Australians and their health professionals to securely access their health information to improve their care, whether at home or in a metropolitan hospital. I’m so proud that the community of Berrigan have shown Australia how it’s done, by embracing digital health to bring world class health care to the bush,” Ms Ley said.

MPHN Acting CEO Melissa Neal lauded the community spirit and connectedness in small rural communities.

“This achievement for Berrigan demonstrates the town’s community strength, the foresight of the local health professionals and the town’s willingness to uptake digital health technology,” Ms Neal said.

Berrigan local Damien Taylor can already see the benefits of My Health Record for his young daughter Maggie, who, at seven months old, underwent open-heart surgery for a congenital heart defect.

“While my wife and I were going through this traumatic time with Maggie, her important health information like medicines, conditions and hospital stay information were being captured in her My Health Record. We are so pleased it has. The long term benefits of having this record mean we won’t need to keep hard copy records and try and remember everything at each medical appointment in the future,” Mr Taylor said.

Joining the community celebration along with the state Member for Murray, Mr Austin Evans, ADHA CEO Tim Kelsey said, “This is digital health innovation at its very best and it demonstrates that it doesn’t matter where in Australia you live, as a consumer and a provider, you should have your health records in the palm of your hand.”

“The Australian Medical Association has said that the My Health Record is the future of modern medicine in Australia. The fact that a small rural town is the first to be fully connected instantly demonstrates the fundamental human value that digital health provides in terms of improving health care access and equity to all Australians no matter where they live.”

He added that access to services is often difficult in rural communities and digital health innovation can make a huge difference to the care of all, particularly those with complex and chronic needs.