Patient ID glitches dog e-health system

Glitches in patient identity details for the new e-health system have been found in about one-third of cases nationally, according to a report the Federal Health Department refuses to release.

The secret report shows patient identity information held by state public hospitals frequently fails to match the data that Medicare holds on the same individuals. Differences in the spelling of names or other variations can pose a significant obstacle, as the system requires an exact match before individuals can get e-health access.

The department has refused a request by the Herald to release the report under the Freedom of Information Act, stating that the report was subject to confidentiality undertakings given by IBM, the company that prepared the document.

The confidentiality undertakings are understood to have been made to state and federal agencies and no individual patient records were involved.

Insiders with knowledge of the project say the refusal to reveal the information has more to do with avoiding government embarrassment about more setbacks in the problem-plagued e-health development.

A department spokeswoman said the report ''does not show up problems in relation to security and safety'' of the new personally controlled electronic health record system, the PCEHR. ''And it does not contain matters in any way that identifies patients.''

Hopes for a national e-health system have already cost billions of dollars but the scheme has yet to deliver significant benefits. Electronic records are expected to deliver advances in the management of patient care, streamlining the availability of all treatment records, cutting waste and duplication of unnecessary repeat diagnostic tests and reducing the risk of mix-ups in patient care.

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The story Patient ID glitches dog e-health system first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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