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Country lives can be saved by online health records

A person’s life can be saved in an emergency with an online health record, the CEO of the National Rural Health Alliance said.

Mark Diamond urges all country people to ensure they have a My Health Record – an online summary of all their health information.

“Country people are more likely to be brought into an emergency department from a heart attack, car accident or diabetic coma,” he said.

“If they’re unconscious, the emergency team is in the dark about whether their patient is allergic to penicillin, if they have a pacemaker, and what medications they’re taking. My Health Record can tell them all that critical information.”

Country people are 25% more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease. They are 40% more likely to die from diabetes, and they are five times as likely to die from a road accident in remote areas.

The Alliance is urging all of its 34 national member organisations working in rural and remote health to back the My Health Record system. Members include the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and the Country Women’s Association.

Alliance CEO Mark Diamond said there are many other reasons country people should make sure they have a My Health Record.

“Country people have less access to health services, so they delay getting treatment, and are generally diagnosed later than their city counterparts.”

“That means treatment options are often more invasive, and those people are significantly more likely to be hospitalized when they do seek help,” he said.

“It’s critically important their health information is easily accessed to provide the best care.”

“An online record also saves you from having to dig out old X-rays, CT scans or folders of health records every time you visit the doctor,” said Mr Diamond.

More than five million people already have a My Health Record, and the system is expanding.

By the end of 2018, a My Health Record will be automatically created for every Australian unless they opt out of the system.

There is a three month period during which to opt out, starting on July 16 2018 and running until 15 October, 2018. Individuals can cancel their My Health Record at any time after the optout period. You can also chose to opt in at any time.

The Alliance is partnering with the Australian Digital Health Agency on My Health Record.

Board Chairperson Tanya Lehmann said the Alliance has worked for decades to improve the health of people in rural and remote areas, and she strongly supports the benefits of an online health summary.

“My Health Record will give country people and their healthcare providers a summary of their medical condition, past treatments, and prescribed medicines. It will be a one stop shop of someone’s health history.”

“This is particularly important for people in rural and remote areas who need to travel long distances for treatment, and often don’t see the same GP or health provider,” Ms Lehmann said.

The Alliance urges everyone to inform themselves about how My Health Record works by talking to their local health provider, or going online to the My Health Record website.

“Ultimately your life could depend on it,” Alliance CEO Mark Diamond said.

Source: National Rural Health Alliance