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Important changes to accessing personal medical records

Media Release
15 November 2012


Important changes to accessing personal medical records

An improved system for sharing medical records between health professionals is expected to enhance patient care on the West Coast.

A year on from the launching of Share for Care , a system designed to make it easier for health professionals to quickly access the information they need to know about a patient’s health history, an important change will enable easier electronic sharing of these files.

From November 17 the records of all patients who have not opted out of electronic sharing of health records will be available to help authorised health professionals with a person’s care. This will improve the treatment people receive across the health system; for example at the pharmacy or at the hospital’s Emergency Department.

West Coast DHB Programme Director Michael Frampton says while it is important medical records are protected for privacy reasons, it is also important to make legitimate medical use as easy as possible to avoid delays and improve diagnostic and care decisions. A secure system is in place to ensure records are protected from being casually or inappropriately accessed.

Share for Care does this. To be part of the process, patients do not have to do anything further,” Mr Frampton says.

The process for people who do not want to have their records part of the system has also been simplified. Phoning a toll-free number 0508 837 872 (0508 TESTSAFE) will start the process whereby a patient’s records will not be available to anyone other than the health provider who holds them (such as their GP).

Patients who have already chosen to opt out of Share for Care do not have to do anything further. Patients who have previously opted out and now wish to be part of the process can arrange this by phoning 0508 837 872 (0508 TESTSAFE)

“This change is a logical move to getting patient records more effectively stored for quick efficient access by those people providing health care,” Mr Frampton says. “A small number of West Coast patients have chosen not to have their records shared but these changes will make it easier for the majority of people to have their records accessible when they are needed.’

Further information about Share for Care can be obtained online at www.shareforcare.health.nz , www.westcoastpho.org.nz or www.westcoastdhb.org.nz or from general practices and pharmacies.

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