Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Colleague Provides An Unsolicited Clinician’s Impression on The NEHRS. Not Really Thrilled!

A physician mate (Terry Hannan) was approached by a more senior colleague after having had a try of the NEHRS. Here is what the colleague wrote (quoted with permission of both).

“Greetings Terry,

I thought that I would write to you out of interest, knowing that you are interested in this sort of thing, now that I have established an eHealth record, having got a bit confused about it all and to detail my experiences.

I had always rather thought that it was a good idea and my application was following the receipt of a pamphlet put out by the Government "The health record that works for you".

Being a more or less retired 71 year old physician, I thought it would be good to get my data into it. Although I need no eHealth record as things stand as I can account very well for all my health facts to any doctor while travelling, but noting that in due course old age our infirmity will get one in the end, like the colo-rectal surgeon, I should set it up and I could provide a better than average medical record for the system.

Now my troubles began. In spite of having better than average computer skills, and much better than average for a 71 year old, I could not get any really meaningful data into this record.

The setting up was cumbersome, having to set up an Australian Government number and then linking it to other accounts, in my case the Centrelink account, finding that I now have two separate Australian Government Numbers to add to the confusion, but in due course, after becoming duly passworded against that number, I had to go through the security set up, cumbersome, but perhaps necessary. It was a bit tricky to set up and use, and in using it, I found that it was not case sensitive, but absolutely strict as to what one put in as an answer. For instance if one put in the name of the street in which line was raised, one had to get the whole lot correct, and in retrospect I wish I had used simpler criteria. For instance, If one put in Bluegum Street, one could not satisfy the security by just typing in "bluegum".

But the real problem came in trying to input data.

I could get in my medications and allergies and next of kin and contact details without any great stress, but when it came to the important stuff, like putting in my medical history, I could find absolutely no way of doing it. There was no editing function so the whole things remains a waste of time for me as things stand. I could get no other medical data from any of those doctors whom I have seen, presumably because they are not on the system, but i will find out.

I could access and add data to my "personal notes", but that is mort really any use as I know all that stuff and health professionals cannot access it anyhow. The more important shared details zone would not let me into it to add details.

Quite separately, it gives a list of PBS Pharmaceutical supply dates, but one can get no details as to what was supplied, which is a pity.

On checking access to Medicare benefits services, one can get detail of who provide the basic service by going into a complicated sub-menu, but the initial presentation on the list mentions only dates, not the service supplier, which means it very difficult and time consuming to actually discover who did what when. This surely could be easily redesigned as the data is all there.

Anyhow, to date is it is all a waste of time and effort for me until the situation is jigged up.

Can you tell the powers that be that a 71year old physician wants to be a serious user but cannot be.

Best wishes,



I think this really says it all. The system as it presently exists is really not suitable for even a computer literate clinician who is in a target demographic (The over 60’s).

Pretty sad and yet another reflection of the way all this was designed and rushed without real consumer or clinician input.

What is described here is the ‘lived experience’ (as the Government likes to call it) of all who have tried the system. It is tedious, clunky and simply not fit for purpose - whatever that was - at present.

You really wonder how long it will take for reality to dawn. Somehow I suspect the description of one wag might come true. “NEHRS: Never Ending Health Record Scandal”.

Right now there does not seem to be any understanding of a need for change.