General consumer FAQs
Following are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers to help consumers and healthcare professionals better understand Australia's new eHealth record system and how having an eHealth record could benefit you over time.
The attached PDF documents contain detailed FAQs - both general in nature, and specific to the needs of particular demographic and professional groups.
What is a personally controlled electronic health (eHealth) record?An eHealth record is an electronic summary of your health records. You and healthcare professionals who are authorised by participating healthcare organisations can access it online whenever you need, from wherever you are.
The Australian Government is rolling out an eHealth record system and people seeking health care in Australia can now register for an eHealth record. This is the first step in the development of the eHealth record system, which will be built up in carefully managed stages.
Healthcare organisations can now also register for the eHealth record system, and authorise healthcare professionals to access the eHealth record system.
As the system develops over time, having an eHealth record will give your doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals involved in your care access to a summary of your key health information, provided you have gave initial consent when you set up the access settings for your eHealth record. This will include information such as medications, test results, hospital discharge summaries, allergies and immunisations.
As people and healthcare organisations register for the eHealth record system, your health care will become better connected which will result in better, faster and more efficient care for you.
Why should I get an eHealth record?Having an eHealth record can make getting the right treatment faster, safer and easier.
- Faster, because doctors and nurses and other healthcare professionals will not have to spend time searching for past treatment information.
- Safer, because authorised healthcare professionals can view your important health care information, including any allergies and vaccinations and the treatment you have received.
- Easier, because you will not have to remember the results of tests you have had, or all the medications you have been prescribed.
How is it different to what I have now?At the moment, all your health care information is stored in different files – for example, some at the GP clinic, the pharmacy, the physiotherapist’s, or the hospital. It might be stored on computers but they are not connected, so it is not easy to share information. With your approval, an eHealth record will, over time, allow your information to be shared online quickly and easily by the healthcare organisations looking after you. This means that even if you are travelling interstate, you will still have access to your record should you need it.
Do I have to have an eHealth record?eHealth records are personally controlled and it is up to you if you wish to have one or not. If you choose not to have an eHealth record, you will still have the same access to the health system as you currently do.
Why is it better than what I have now?Until now, your medical records have been stored in different locations by different healthcare professionals. With an eHealth record, you can access an online summary of your information wherever you have access to the internet.
Your eHealth record has strong security and privacy safeguards – you will have a user ID and password to access your record. You can also see who has accessed or updated your eHealth record. If you feel someone has inappropriately accessed your eHealth record you can contact the helpline by calling 1800 723 471.
Will an eHealth record replace my existing records at my GP’s clinic?Your eHealth record will not replace your existing records but when you see a doctor, get a new prescription or visit a specialist, information can be added to your eHealth record. Over time, this will build up an overview of your health, which will help you and your doctors take even better care of you.
Your doctor will continue to take and review notes when you have a consultation, and this detailed information will sit within local clinical information systems, as per current practice.
Who can get an eHealth record?People seeking health care in Australia can register for an eHealth record.
When can I get an eHealth record?You can register for an eHealth record now.
How do I get an eHealth record?You can register for an eHealth record in one of the following ways:
- Online – by visiting www.ehealth.gov.au
- Over the phone – by calling 1800 723 471 and selecting option one
- In person – by visiting a Department of Human Services service centre offering Medicare services
- In writing – by completing a registration application form, available from a service centre offering Medicare services or from www.ehealth.gov.au, and posting it to: Personally Controlled eHealth Record Program, GPO Box 9942, In your Capital City.
What will be on my eHealth record?When you first log on to your eHealth record, it will contain basic information, and you can add your own notes, including emergency contact details, any allergies you have or medication you are taking, Indigenous status, as well as information about the custodian of your advance care directive (‘living will’) if you have one.
When you set up your record, you will be able to choose whether you want information about your health that is already included on your Medicare records to be added to your eHealth record. This can include immunisation records (for children up to the age of seven), Medicare and pharmaceutical benefits information, and organ donation details.
As the system develops, more of your health care information can be added by the doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals involved in your care, including any treatment you may receive or medication you are prescribed. Your eHealth record will build up over time. You will be able use www.ehealth.gov.au, after you have registered, to access your eHealth record.
What information will be included in my eHealth record?When you first access your eHealth record, you can enter basic information about your own health, such as details of allergies and medications you are taking. You can also keep private notes for your own use, such as how you are feeling or reactions to medications, which cannot be viewed by your doctor or nurse.
As healthcare organisations upgrade their clinical software so that it can communicate with the eHealth record system, more information, including specialist and referral letters, can be added by your doctors, nurses and other authorised healthcare professionals involved in your care. This will allow your doctor to enter information about your consultations and treatment. This information could include family medical history that individuals have provided to a healthcare provider.
What is a shared health summary?A shared health summary is an overview of your health care status at a particular point in time, developed by your ‘nominated provider’ – usually your GP. This is particularly useful if you have complex health needs or receive care from different doctors and other healthcare professionals. The shared health summary is helpful for new doctors or other healthcare professionals you may see, as it provides a clinically relevant overview of your health, and means that you will not need to remember or repeat details of all previous medications, important test results and other treatment you may have received.
Who is my ‘nominated provider’?Your nominated provider is the individual healthcare professional who agrees with you to develop and manage your shared health summary. For most people, the nominated provider is likely to be your GP – this is because your GP is usually the person most involved in your ongoing, coordinated care.
Your nominated provider is decided by mutual agreement.; If you wish to change nominated providers you can agree this with another doctor or authorised healthcare professional. You do not need to have a nominated provider in order to have an eHealth record.
Will my doctors see my MBS and PBS details, if I choose to have them on my eHealth record?When you set up your record, you can choose to have information that Medicare already holds about you – including immunisation records (for children up to the age of seven under the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register), Medicare and pharmaceutical benefits information, and organ donation details. If you choose to include this, any doctors or healthcare professionals authorised by participating healthcare organisations will be able to see these details.
For people between the ages of 14 and 18 who have not taken control of their eHealth record, MBS and PBS details will not be accessible through their eHealth record. This is in line with existing Medicare policy to keep this information private from parents or others without the express consent of the young person.
How can I use my eHealth record to view information about the medications prescribed and dispensed to me?A Prescription and Dispense View is available in everyone’s personally controlled eHealth record. This is a feature that was added to Australia’s eHealth record system in May 2013 to make the prescribing and dispensing of medication a safer, more effective part of healthcare.
The new display in your eHealth record shows in detail the medications you have been prescribed, including the brand and ingredient names, the dose of the medication, and the direction for consumption. Similar information is also displayed in the new view of your eHealth record as your medications are dispensed.
This gives you more detailed access to information about your medications than ever before, and will particularly benefit those Australians with high healthcare needs who use multiple medications. Consumers will also benefit from better health outcomes over time, as healthcare professionals increasingly access this information through the eHealth record system, which in turn will support better clinical decision making.
Medication information can only be added to the Prescription and Dispense View in your eHealth record if the prescribing clinician (for example, your GP) and / or the dispensing health professional (your pharmacist) is participating in the eHealth record system and has the necessary compatible software.
As more healthcare provider organisations connect to the eHealth record system the better connected Australia’s healthcare system will become and the more benefits that can be derived.
What is the Child Development function that is now available in my child’s eHealth record?Child Development is a new function that has been added to the eHealth Record system (in May 2013) to help parents keep even better track of their children’s key early health, growth and development information. It enables parents and carers as well as the authorised persons in the healthcare provider organisations they’ve authorised, to view and update a baby’s or young child’s growth, development and immunisation information as part of their personally controlled eHealth record.
The Child Development function has been modelled in part off the traditional baby book used by state and territory health services, only it is connected to the eHealth record system. You can use it to add information to your child’s eHealth record to help monitor their early growth and development and to be alert to important things like when immunisations and child health checks are due.
It isn’t a new record, but rather a new part of your child’s existing eHealth record. The new section, called ‘Child Development’, sits under the Health Record Overview menu items in your eHealth record.
If you’ve already registered your child for an eHealth record, you will automatically see this new section which lets you add and review information about your child’s growth and early development, much like a health diary for your baby. This is in addition to the clinical and other information the system will already record each time your child visits a GP or hospital.
Can I access my eHealth record on my smart phone or tablet? Can I register for an eHealth record on my smartphone or tablet?You will be able to apply for and view your own eHealth record on a device of your choosing, as long as it has internet access, however, specific ‘applications’ are not being provided for mobile devices such as iPads, tablets and smart phones.
In an emergency, will doctors be able to access my eHealth record, even if I have used the privacy settings?Healthcare organisations participating in the eHealth record system may access your eHealth record in an emergency, where it is not possible for you to give your consent. This is consistent with existing privacy laws.
In life-threatening cases where it is unreasonable or impractical to obtain consent to access your eHealth record, authorised healthcare professionals at participating healthcare organisations may assert emergency access. This will override any access controls that have been set and provide the healthcare organisation with unrestricted access to your eHealth record for five days. Use of the emergency access function will be logged in the audit log and you may be notified, if you request notifications.
Asserting emergency access is warranted where a doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional believes that access to the information is necessary to lessen or prevent a serious threat to:
- your life, health or safety and your consent cannot be obtained(e.g. if you are unconscious); or
- public health or public safety.
What happens if I forget or lose my user ID or password?To register for, or access your eHealth record online for the first time, you need an account with www.australia.gov.au. The delivery of Australian Government online services is coordinated through www.australia.gov.au, including the eHealth record system. Once you have a www.australia.gov.au account, use your user ID to access the eHealth record system.
If you lose or forget your www.australia.gov.au user details, you will need to create a new account by providing proof of identity online. Once this new account has been set up, you can re-link any program accounts (your eHealth record, Centrelink, Medicare or Child Support) that you had previously set up.
If you forget your password, but remember your user ID, you can create a new password online. To re-set your password you must answer two secret questions you created for your www.australia.gov.au online accounts.
What is an identity verification code (IVC)?Registering for an eHealth record involves proving or verifying your identity. If you register for an eHealth record in person, over the phone, in writing, or via the Assisted Registration process, you will be given an identity verification code – or IVC – to help you access your record online for the first time.
You only need to use an IVC once – the first time you access your eHealth record online. However, please note that an IVC is not needed if you have registered for an eHealth record online and you were able to verify your identity online at that time.
What happens if I lose or forget my identity verification code (IVC)?Your IVC is valid for 30 days after it has been issued. If it expires before you use it, you can request a new IVC via the helpline (1800 723 471) or visiting a Department of Human Services service centre offering Medicare services.
Can I remove documents from my eHealth record?You control what is in your eHealth record, so you are able to ‘remove’ a document or information about prescribed medications or other treatment from your record. A consumer who wishes to withdraw consent for the record of a prescription being dispensed should advise the pharmacy each time that a repeat of the prescription is dispensed.
If you remove documents from your record, this information will not be accessible, even in an emergency. You can also restore documents to your record if you wish.
You can also choose, in your access settings, whether you wish to restrict some healthcare organisations from viewing any or all of your eHealth record.
It is important to remember that healthcare professionals can treat you more effectively if they have access to relevant information about your health status and any treatments you have received.
What if I no longer want an eHealth record?If you no longer want to have an eHealth record, you can cancel it online at www.ehealth.gov.au, by going into a Department of Human Services (DHS) service centre offering Medicare services, or by calling the helpline on 1800 723 471. If you cancel your eHealth record, no-one will be able to see it (including yourself) and no further information can be uploaded onto it.
You can re-register your eHealth record online at www.ehealth.gov.au, by calling the helpline on 1800 723 471 or by visiting a Department of Human Services service centre offering Medicare services.Reactivation will again allow healthcare organisations to access your eHealth record in accordance with any changes you have made to the default restricted settings in existence before cancellation, and permit documents to be uploaded to your eHealth record. However, any clinical document created during the period that the eHealth record was deactivated will not be included in the reactivated eHealth record.