Data-sharing 'would benefit patients'

Electronic sharing of health information will make life easier for patients and medical professionals, the public was told at a seminar in Invercargill yesterday.

The Health Ministry's National Health IT Board hosted the seminar to discuss how modern technology could improve the health industry.

Board director Graeme Osborne said an electronic sharing system would mean everyone involved in a person's care would have access to the most accurate and complete information possible and this would help when making health decisions.

At present, health information was not always available for sharing between health professionals.

The seminar was a chance for the board to hear from the public, Mr Osborne said. "We want to hear from the community, get them involved and engaged in what is going on."

The health industry was a wonderful service but it could also be frustrating.

New Zealand was trying a different approach by setting a standard where clinicians and the public worked together to establish the health sharing system, he said. "By listening to what works for clinicians and . . . to what the public want we can create a system that people can have confidence in and trust."

Information would be held securely, with people able to see who had accessed their electronic health information.

General practitioners, hospital doctors, nurses, specialists and pharmacists would be those most likely to access the shared health information, Mr Osborne said.

The Government hoped that all New Zealanders and the health professionals caring for them would have electronic access to their health information by 2014.

The Southland Times