Given the obvious concerns by Industry Stakeholders and the Public about nefarious use of the huge amount of data contained within the MHR (My Heath Record) system the Australian Government has wisely engaged a Consultant group to develop a framework for the secondary use of My Health Record data – after all, we would not want third parties with commercial interest obtaining access to our personal health data would we?
It is therefore re-assuring to assume that our data is safe. No organisation would for instance be able to access our MHR file when they are also going to try and sell us things like cosmetics, homeopathy, vitamins, weight loss products etc. Surely not?
Unfortunately in the real world things work a little bit different. The large Community Pharmacists groups have just announced that they have been given access to the MHR system. It does off course make all the sense in the world that the details of scripts issued are uploaded to the MHR but this announcement goes a little bit further than that:
“When a pharmacist is using conformant software, a patient’s record can be accessed directly from the ‘dispense’ screen. Pharmacists can also access relevant clinical information via the My Health Record provider portal”
“MHR will add efficiencies to Medchecks, diabetes checks, HMRs, and managing patients at transitions of care by providing real-time access to recent, relevant and reliable information to inform clinical assessment and decision making.”
On face value this looks really great for patient care – until you look at the biggest player in this field, Chemist Warehouse’s website – Do I really want an organisation that boasts that their top selling products include Goat soap and Swisse liver Detox having unrestricted access to patient’s personal health data?
The last thing any unwell patient being discharged from hospital needs when they pick up their medication is a “do you want fries with that?” session based on the details contained within their MHR.
It remains extraordinary that the medical profession is under a constant assault to prove that they are not being manipulated by Big Pharma, to the point where every single meal, pen and paraphernalia is scrutinised to the minutest detail yet these activities within commercial pharmacies are left unchecked and uncontrolled.
Yet now we are providing these large commercial entities with access to patients confidential medical data to tailor their sales pitches around people’s most vulnerable health issues.
To top it all most of these add-on clinics have the most basic documentation and often the only physical record of the clinical advice provided is the receipt from the cashier. Which is astounding given the pressure on doctors to keep comprehensive and adequate records of everything.
Make no mistake – I value the role of Pharmacists and their expertise in being part of the medical team.
One cannot however assume that they will be ethical users of the MHR data as long as they taint their reputation by flogging unproven remedies and cures to vulnerable patients alongside the dispensing of proper medication