Well, Medical Observer and The Australian said it wouldn’t be possible. That well-known blogger said it was “aggressively user hostile” and indeed couldn’t be done, but I have just registered online for the PCEHR, and created and viewed my personal health record.
It took me about 30 minutes, but I have to confess that I was interrupted by a couple of phone calls, and it probably would have been a good deal faster had I not completely missed the last number on my Medicare card.
The first steps were simple. You head off to ehealth.gov.au and click the Login/Apply Now button. That takes you to australia.gov.au, where you set up an account. You enter a secure password (mine has a combination of six letters, two in capitals and six numbers), and provide five security questions with answers. That gives you a registration number.
Then it’s back to ehealth.gov.au, where you have to verify your identity online, using your Medibank card.
You get to view the conditions:
The System Operator of the eHealth record system, who is the Secretary of the Department of Health and Ageing, is collecting the information in this online process to work out if it can accept your application and for managing your (and/or your dependant’s) eHealth record if your application is accepted. If applicable, the information will also be used to work out whether you are an authorised representative for your dependant, are eligible to take control of your existing eHealth record, or to verify your identity to establish online access to your (or your dependant’s) eHealth record for the first time.
If your application is accepted, the System Operator will collect other personal and health information about you (and for authorised representatives, personal and health information about your dependant) when that information is uploaded by healthcare providers or by you, or where permitted by law.
This is authorised under the? Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records Act 2012? (PCEHR Act) and the? Healthcare Identifiers Act 2010? (HI Act).
The System Operator usually gives some or all of this information to the following as part of the normal day-to-day operations of the eHealth record system:
– registered healthcare providers involved in your (or your dependant’s) care where this is consistent with any access controls you set, or in the case of a serious threat to an individual’s life, health or safety or to public health or safety
– your nominated representatives, if you choose to have any, consistent with any access controls you set
– repository operators, portal operators and contracted service providers that are registered to participate in the eHealth record system
– the Chief Executive Medicare as the service operator under the HI Act, and
– the Australian Government Department of Human Services and, if applicable, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Your (or your dependant’s information) may be given to some other entities but only where this is required or authorised by or under law. Where information is given to other enThat’tities, those other entities may collect, use and disclose that information as required or authorised under the PCEHR Act, the HI Act and other laws.
The information provided in response to parts of this application process is collected by the System Operator on behalf of the Chief Executive Medicare (within the Australian Government Department of Human Services) or the Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The collection of this information is authorised by the PCEHR Act and is for the purpose of the Chief Executive Medicare carrying out functions as a registered repository operator under the PCEHR Act.
The Chief Executive Medicare (as the service operator under the HI Act and, separately, the holder of Medicare and PBS records) may disclose information to the System Operator about you and your dependants (including name, address, Medicare card number, and IHI) to help the System Operator to make decisions about registration and authorised representatives. These disclosures are authorised by the HI Act and the PCEHR Act.
Further information about how personal information is handled in the eHealth record system is described in the eHealth record system’s? Privacy statement (http://www.ehealth.gov.au/internet/ehealth/publishing.nsf/content/ehealth_privacy).
You can choose as part of your identify verification to obtain access to Medicare online services, which was fine by me.
The final part of the verification process does require direct knowledge of your last interactions with Medicare.
You have to provide the date of your last GP’s appointment for which you claimed a Medicare benefit, the postcode and full name of the doctor’s practice, the family name of the doctor and the amount you paid before the Medicare rebate.
Fortunately, my last GP visit was on June 18, so I had all the information on hand.
The system quickly verified the details, and I then made the official application to register myself and include my information, and chose what information types I wanted included: PBS information, Medicare Benefits Schedule information, Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (well, I don’t imagine that’s really going to be relevant for someone my age, and the Australian Organ Donor Register.
I am now looking at my PCEHR record. All done online, without a single phone call or visit to a Medicare office.