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Age : 55
Registration date : 2008-03-08

PostSubject: Database to link patients and doctors   Sun 13 Apr - 19:32

PATIENTS could find out about the performance of hospitals and doctors under the Labor Government's plan for a national health database.

The database would end a "ridiculous" system of information collection on patients and hospitals, federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon said. It might also mean that doctors in interstate hospitals could study a patient's care history when necessary.

Ms Roxon said the National Health and Hospital Reform Commission, along with the Health and Welfare Institute, were working towards a national database of hospital and patient information.

"Jointly they are now working on how we get that data collection consistent across states, what could be publicly available and working on how we are able to compare not just as consumers, but as governments, about what's working," she said.

"It's ridiculous given the high quality of the system we have, we could vastly improve it, but that we don't know these things is very frustrating and inadequate."

National data collection on patient care and hospital performance is almost non-existent because states hold varying types of information on different databases that cannot be viewed by hospitals or governments interstate.

The federal database is likely to contain information on patient care and history, performance of hospitals and doctors in the public and private system, waiting lists and performance of area health services.

"This is part of the important work of the health reform commission and the subject of our negotiation through the health-care-agreement processes with COAG," Ms Roxon said.

The chairwoman of the new National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission, Dr Christine Bennett, said such a system would aid the commission's goals.

"If we're talking about individual Australians taking greater responsibility for their health and making choices in their health, clearly they need to be able to collate and harness all the information about their health, as well as diseases, treatment and risks," Dr Bennett said. "A lot of groups have been working vigorously on this," she said.

Ms Roxon said she agreed with many of the recommendations on data collection coming from a report released last week by the Australian Centre for Health Research, which included an ID number that would enable hospitals to read information on patients in other states.

The report's author, Ken Baxter, a former chief of premier's department for Jeff Kennett and Bob Carr, said hospitals now had no way of knowing a patient's medical history if that person was admitted to hospital interstate.

"If you were interstate and you fell ill and had to be admitted to hospital, the clinician concerned would quickly be able to look at your number or your barcode and, like your licence, be able to find that you'd been admitted to hospital before, or that you had diabetes or that you were allergic to penicillin, for example," Mr Baxter said.
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