Nice set of numbers for MyHR

It doesn't really reach the heights of Paul Keating's inimitable description of the 1989 national accounts as a “beautiful set of numbers”, but the federal government would be more than pleased with the headline figure of three per cent as the opt-out rate of the My Health Record so far.

Considering the relentless negative press that has accompanied the start of the opt-out period in mid-July, that just under 900,000 people have opted out is a pretty good outcome for the government and its agencies. The opt-out rate in the 2016 trials was 1.9 per cent but the government's own research shows that half the trial population didn't even know what a MyHR was before they got one, so that number is a bit rubbery, and three per cent will be accepted with alacrity.

ADHA CEO Tim Kelsey garnered quite a few headlines when he announced this preliminary figure at the Senate committee hearing in Canberra on Monday evening. Mr Kelsey told the committee that the opt-out rate in a similar exercise in Austria was about three per cent, and a check on the most recent figures in NHS England's national data opt-out exercise shows that 1.6 million people, or 2.72 per cent of the eligible population, has opted out.

With two months to go until Australia's opt-out period ends, it's likely that the vast majority of people who will opt out have already done so and it's just those who have opted out on paper to be added to the tally. But even if it reaches a million, out of 28 million IHIs issued, that's not a bad set of numbers.

What is a terrible set of numbers is the alarmingly high rate of people who are still unaware that a record is going to be created for them in two months and that they have the choice to opt out. While Mr Kelsey and his colleagues touted a rise in general awareness of My Health Record from 40 per cent to 87 per cent, the agency's weekly survey shows that mature awareness is still lagging.

While 59 per cent know about opt-out, two in five still don't. That's a lot of people to communicate with in the next two months and we still think more needs to be done to advertise this thing to the general public.

Yet another nice set of numbers was the salary quoted at the hearing for one unnamed clinician currently advising ADHA on My Health Record. This clinician – believed to be former NEHTA chair and ADHA deputy chair Steve Hambleton – has managed to rake in more than $1 million over the last two years for his expert advice. Pulse+IT would like to put it on the record that for that sort of money, we'd be happy to give the agency advice up the wazoo.

The other news this week was the re-emergence of Telstra Health in our headlines, with an app they've helped build for specialists at St John of God Health Care hospitals. Giving specialists access to their patient lists and test results on their smartphone is a no brainer if you want to keep them happy, and we hear they have taken to it with alacrity.

There has also some interesting activity in the procurement area in the last month or so, with ACT Health going to tender for a new pathology system, clinical devices and a clinical communications platform, having also recently awarded a contract for patient journey boards and wayfinding. eHealth NSW is planning to trial infrastructure as a service at the $1 billion redevelopment of the Westmead Hospital precinct, and Waitemata DHB, which runs North Shore Hospital in Auckland, is looking for ideas on how to use technology to help divert patients from ED to an urgent care clinic.

And Australia's Department of Defence is also back in action with its JP2060 Deployable Health Capability project. This long-standing project is looking at how to better support healthcare provision for the Australian Defence Force at home and in disaster and combat zones, through a mixture of a portable medical equipment component and an accompanying health knowledge management (HKM) element.

The latter has gone through a few iterations and acronyms, from the Joint eHealth Data and Information system (JeHDI) in 2009 to the Defence eHealth System in 2011. This is based on a primary care system from EMIS also used by the UK Ministry of Defence and is predominantly used by Garrison Health Services, which looks after ADF personnel stationed at home.

In the past, the idea was to extend DeHS to deployed personnel as well but Defence, having gone to market earlier this year with a request for information for the HKM, seems to have a different idea now. The full tender for the HKM is expected in the first quarter of next year and the project is due to go into production in 2021. By then, the MyHR might also be fully deployed.

That brings us to our poll question for the week: Do you think the MyHR information campaign has been adequate?

Sign up to our weekend edition to vote or leave your thoughts below.

Our poll last week asked: Is an ECG app in the Apple Watch of any clinical use? This was a pretty even split: 51 per cent said yes, 49 per cent said no.

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