Why the PCEHR is not internet banking

There is currently a lot of angst as to why the Personally Controlled Electronic HEalth Record has not had massive uptake. This is hardly as surprise when NBN isn’t even close to being rolled-out but let’s look a little closer.

Sharing of medical records is often compared to internet banking: the banks can do it so why can’t health care deliver?

Point Number 1: Health care is not banking.

I see patients with cancer every working day and basically I feel confident in saying that until they get sick people actually pay more attention to their bank statements than their health. When you feel sick you feel sick and when you don’t , well, you don’t. But in banking you need to to know how much is in your account. People don’t feel this way about health.

Point Number 2: Consumer orientation is the wrong message.

The Government deliberately labelled the electronic health record as being ‘personally controlled’. The problem is that health care providers actually need to enter data and in many cases it is these providers that depend on the data…..as much as the consumer. In the case of banking both the banker and the customer want to know the balance and the history of transactions. Yes, make it seem the consumer is the focus but the reality is that PCEHR is a tool for communication between medical practitioner….incidentally, it’s so the consumer gets the best medical care. The real message is that PCEHR is for all of the stakeholders.

Point Number 3: Uptake is poor because it hasn’t been promoted well.

Most people actually haven’t heard of it. I tried to sign up and couldn’t because I didn’t have a recent Medicare transaction. People haven’t had a teaser. Inn the the case of internet banking there was the ATM. People trust ATMs to dispense their money and deal their transactions. Internet banking was a logical progression. There is no equivalent in health care. You can’t go to a box in a wall and check your health balance (yet). And who has seen an actual promotion for PCEHR? I’m aware of it but nobody has come out to me and said you must put this in your software.

My view is: make the approach to healthcare more like how we manage personal finance and then a PCEHR might get somewhere

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