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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Another Day Another Issue With the NEHRS / PCEHR System - Or So It Seems.

Just when we thought we would have a day off from the continuing news-flow of issues and problems we had this appear.

Punctuation a stumbling block for e-health

4th Jul 2012
Medical Observer has found patients with apostrophes or hyphens in their name cannot register for an e-health record, as the government scrambles to get the rest of the patient registration process working.
Patient registrations were originally due to be made available online, via telephone or in person at a Medicare office from 1 July, before the government signalled online registrations had been scrapped.
Online registrations were briefly made available earlier this week but have since been taken offline again, along with the consumer portal patients were supposed to use to access their records.
A health department spokesperson said the department had been testing the performance of the system and the related links.
When MO attempted to use the telephone registration system yesterday the operator said an apostrophe in the surname to be registered could not be entered into the system, and that all names with special characters would require an update of the system before they could be entered.
Lots more here:
Additional coverage of the issue is found here:

E-health online registrations can't handle names with hyphens and apostrophes

IF Health Minister Tanya Plibersek's husband tried to register for an e-health record he would have no such luck.
The issue lies with Michael Coutts-Trotter's name: it has a hyphen and the newly launched, multi-million dollar personally controlled e-health record system hasn't been built to accept such characters.
As well, people with apostrophes wouldn't be able to register.
"The system hasn't been built for that," a government e-health hotline representative said. "It cannot accept those special characters".
She said if people with hyphens or apostrophes tried to register someone would "take down their details and call them back because they can't register".
A Health Department spokeswoman said the "issue has been picked up in our testing and is being addressed as a matter for urgency".
"Anyone affected can register in writing or contact the e-health telephone line to provide their details and they will be notified when the issue is resolved," the spokeswoman said.
The system had a low-key launch on July 1, with registrations only available via phone or at Medicare offices.
As the system went live, people couldn't enter their personal information, medical history and medication details as the consumer portal was unavailable.
More here:
For those of a technical bent there is a detailed note on the matter - with relevant standards and so on you can read here:

Validating Name Characters

Posted on July 4, 2012 by Grahame Grieve
Well, the pcEHR go-live hasn’t gone that well. One particular feature that’s attracted some attention is that fact that the pcEHR won’t accept people with some unusual characters in their surnames.
From http://www.medicalobserver.com.au/news/punctuation-a-stumbling-block-for-ehealth:
Medical Observer has found patients with apostrophes or hyphens in their name cannot register for an e-health record, as the government scrambles to get the rest of the patient registration process working.
It sounds like a glaring oversight… only, just what characters do you need to allow in a patient’s surname? I suspect that real experts would be fairly circumspect in commenting on this – it’s harder than it looks.
Full blog is here:
In response to all this I had a message from a colleague. It read:
“Well, if my Icelandic grandchildren came to live here we'd need √∂. As their "surname" is B√∂rgarsdottir (with an accent on the "i" as well).”
I only have two comments.
First - this is the sort of problem that is found when one bothers to actually do some basic piloting and testing before ‘going live’ with a national system. Clearly the efforts to test and pilot the NEHRS System has been inadequate. Had the testing been done a rather humorous but ultimately just hopeless outcome could have been avoided.
Second - I reckon you are entitled to have your name recorded as you desire. The system needs to suit all potential users - not force anyone to change or modify name. Really that is just silly for a health system to not provide such flexibility - especially in such a multicultural nation!
I wonder what will turn up next week? In the meantime I agree with the comments suggesting we all need to hear, formally and on the record, from the DoHA and NEHTA leadership regarding all the issues that are now out there.
David.