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Important changes to accessing to personal medical records

For immediate release

3 November 2011

Important changes to accessing to personal medical records

A new way of managing personal medical records is being introduced on the West Coast, and residents are encouraged to actively ‘opt-in’ to the system.

The Share for Care system is being introduced this month by Healthy West Coast. It is a way to safely share a summary of a person’s General Practice based electronic health information with other health care providers on the West Coast.

Share for Care allows health workers approved access to necessary information. This will improve the care people receive across the health care system, for example at the pharmacy or at the hospital’s Emergency Department.

David Meates, West Coast DHB Chief Executive, says while it is important medical records are protected for privacy reasons, medical staff also need to be able to quickly access information to ensure effective provision of the best patient care.

Share for Care does this. Although, to ensure the system works, people have to sign a form to opt-in to the process. There is a choice to opt-out but that also requires a form to be signed,” Mr Meates says.

‘Opt-in’ forms can be completed and returned to a person’s general practice.

People who want to be excluded from the system also need to complete the appropriate form and return it to their general practice before November 30 to ensure their records will not be available to anyone other than the health provider who holds them (such as their GP).

If neither an opt-in nor an opt-out form is completed, health records will be available only in an emergency outside the general practice.

Mr Meates says a secure system is in place to ensure records are protected from being casually or inappropriately accessed and more personal information, such as notes made by a doctor or practice nurse, are not included in the information shared.

“This is a logical move to getting patient records more effectively stored for quick efficient access by those people providing health care,” Mr Meates says

“We are urging people to take a quick moment to fill in the opt-in form so there is smooth access to their records when needed.”

Mr Meates says the Healthy West Coast hopes to eventually expand the system to allow patients to be able to access their own medical records online.

• Opt-in and opt-out forms are available at all pharmacies, general practices, medical centres, DHB facilities and the West Coast Messenger or can be downloaded online at , or
• More information is also available from general practices and pharmacies.


Dr Carol Atmore, Greymouth GP and medical leader for West Coast DHB and West Coast PHO, is looking forward to the benefits that Share for Care will bring.

“Recently I was in Grey Hospital Emergency Department with a family member, when one of my regular patients arrived by ambulance. The doctor in ED asked me if I could remember what medication the person took, as they were unsure. Unfortunately I couldn’t help.

“Had the person signed up for Share for Care, the doctor would have been able to see a summary of the patient’s important medical information, including what medications they take. Therefore, having this new system will allow us to provide better health care to our community”.

© Scoop Media

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