Health department issues PCEHR legislation draft

The document calls for public submissions and outlines the security and privacy framework underpinning the project

The federal government has released draft legislation for its $466.7 million Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records (PCEHR) project, following the release of the Concept of Operations document earlier this month.

Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon, said the draft (PDF) had been released for public consultation and outlined the process for consumers, healthcare providers and data sources to register for the e-health system.

“For the first time patients will have control over who accesses their information — and further they will know who has accessed their medical records, and the exact time that record was accessed,” Roxon said in a statement.

The legislation will provide the framework for the security and privacy of the system and has proposed additional penalties be imposed for misconduct of the system.

“Using a combination of legislation, security and technology, backed by strict penalties for infringements, we will give patients peace of mind that their sensitive medical information is safe and secure,” she said.

Punishable offences would include the failure of a registered healthcare provider to notify the PCEHR system operator within a specified period when it ceases to meet requirements for registration to participate in the system; the request and delivery of a record by a healthcare provider when the requesting employer not authorised to do so; and the failure of a healthcare provider to meet record-keeping obligations.

The legislation proposes penalties of up to $66,000 for inappropriately accessing a record, which multiplies if more than one record is accesses without authorisation.

According to Roxon, the system will be monitored to identify suspicious and inappropriate behaviour.

“Patients can upgrade their privacy settings to suit their needs; for example, giving their GP access to their entire records, but more limited access to their dentist.”

“Doctors, or other health professionals, will be the only people allowed to create medical notes on the file,” she said. “Patients can add their own notes about their general health but cannot make medical notes.”

Patients dissatisfied with the handling of their personal information by the system will also be able to issue a complaint via a single entry point which will then be referred to the appropriate regulator.

The Department of Health and Ageing recently confirmed it is in negotiations for the third tranche of funding to be allocated to the National e-Health Transition Authority (NeHTA) for the PCEHR initiative.

A DoHA spokesperson said negotiations were progressing in line with the end of the previous stage, with a new allocation to be made by November this year.

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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Tags federal governmentDepartment of Health and Ageing (DoHA)Nicola RoxonPersonally Controlled Electronic Health Records (PCEHR)Minister for Health and Ageing

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