A survey of New Zealanders undertaken by global consultancy Accenture suggests strong support for the development of an electronic health record system operated by the Government that would enable individuals to see all information in their medical records.
Cabinet is due later this month to receive the indicative business case for an electronic health record prepared by a consortium comprising Accenture and local consultancy Martin Jenkins, following announcement last November by the Ministry of Health that it had chosen a support the development of the two-stage business case for the single electronic health record (EHR).
The Ministry of Health has been developing a health information governance framework as part of a strategy called Digital Health 2020.
Ian Manovel, Accenture's innovation principal director for the ANZ health practice, told Computerworld: “eighty eight percent of New Zealanders aid they wanted to see their whole medical record. We found this quite a strong statement that such a large percentage would want to see everything.”
He said there is a very strong trend about people becoming much more informed. “People want to research their own medical conditions and prepare for a doctor visit.”
He added: “Seventy four percent of new Zealanders said the organisation they most trusted to provide electronic health records was the government. Fifty five percent said they would use one provided by a healthcare provider. Only 18 percent said they would use it if it was provided by a large global technology company.”
Manovel said the survey, which was also undertaken in Australia, was of 460 New Zealanders chosen to be a representative sample of the population.
“We put some thematic questions in there. We asked them about their personalities and how they felt about things. That has given us a much richer perspective and we have been able to group responses into like-minded groups.”
“The purpose of the survey was to find out whether there was an element of consumerism to healthcare where people could be more in charge of their own healthcare and whether digital technology could allow them to do that.”
Manovel said wider availability to comprehensive medical records could save many millions of dollars and prevent much unnecessary suffering in one area alone.
“In Australia a third of people over 70 years old who get admitted to hospital get re-admitted about a month later because of the medications they have been prescribed. It costs over a billion dollars.”
He said one of the main reasons for these readmissions was because of incompatibilities between different drugs, or the patients ceasing to necessary drugs after being given new drugs following a stay in hospital. “An electronic system that shared this information would prevent a lot of these readmissions.”