HealthConnect trial date set

The Federal Government will start trialling its national electronic database HealthConnect in September.

The new national health information network will face its first test in 'live' settings in Tasmania and the Northern Territory with further trials to be held in NSW and Queensland in 2003.

Health Minister Kay Patterson said $2.5 million will be made available for the trials to test key components of the network in action; the results will be used to establish a preferred model for national implementation.

Plans to put Australia's health records online have been stalled by privacy and security concerns, but Patterson said the trial will assess consent, privacy and storage issues.

Plans by the Government to use Medicare numbers as the system identifier face strong opposition from the Australian Medical Association which fears on-selling of information to healthcare-related companies.