Medical insurers still refusing to endorse e-health records
A HEALTH department backdown has freed GPs of liability for “compromised or hacked” e-health records but the government is still demanding GPs obtain permission from the author of every document they upload to the system before doing so.
The issues of liability and intellectual property management are the main impediments to medical insurers endorsing the participation agreement practices will be required to sign in order to use the system.
MDA National president Professor Julian Rait told MO the department had agreed last week to waive its original demand that practices accept liability for the security of the system but had yet to provide a solution to the problem of how to handle intellectual property issues.
“Under the PCEHR bill… a GP would have to obtain consent from the author [of a specialist report, for example] before uploading any document to the system, which would be an absurd level of work,” he said.
“We don’t have an easy answer for [how intellectual property issues should be resolved], but until it is worked out, we won’t recommend our clients be involved.”
The department is due to meet with insurers and GP groups again this week in an attempt to break the final deadlock.
Avant Mutual Group CEO David Nathan said he was confident a solution to the problem could be found. “Following ongoing and constructive discussions, especially over the last seven days with the government and the AMA, we believe a sensible solution to our PCEHR concerns is imminent,” Mr Nathan said.
A department spokesperson said consultation was “progressing well”, but RACGP president Professor Claire Jackson said the college would not endorse the system until insurers had approved the terms and conditions.
“I can’t see how we can roll this out by [the launch date of] 1 July,” Professor Jackson said.
“The 12 pilot sites have been doing great work but the rest of general practice has not been prepared at all, and in terms of actual readiness to implement this at a practice level we haven’t even scratched the surface.
“I estimate it would be at least 12 months, if not more, to actually do all the preparation necessary for practices to start using the system, and the money on the table at the moment is not sufficient to make that a rapid or easy process.”
AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton said while he was encouraged the department was now negotiating closely with the profession, “none of this stuff should be happening at five minutes to midnight”.
“The average GP on the front line doesn’t even know if their software will be compatible with the system,” he said. “I don’t think there will be many electronic records being used outside the wave sites for 6–12 months; this will be the softest launch in the history of anything.”
With just two weeks to go before the NEHRS launch date, legislation enacting the system is due to be debated in parliament this week.
The 'Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records Bill 2011' is expected to be passed with the support of the Coalition despite opposition senators previously calling for a 12-month delay in the rollout of the scheme so that issues relating to governance, patient risk, privacy and interoperability could be resolved.