The Australian Digital Health Agency released an upgrade to the electronic health record platform My Health Record, giving healthcare professionals online access to a patient's pathology and diagnostic imaging reports.

Tests and reports may include blood tests, urine tests and biopsies, X-rays, CT scans and ultrasounds. Once uploaded, these tests and reports are available to all members of the patient's health care team.

Australians can also benefit from being able to access their tests and reports in their My Health Record because they can keep track of their results, monitor and compare their results over time and access their data at any time.

Only authorised healthcare provider organisations can access the system through secure conformant software, according to the ADHA.

Australians living in rural and remote areas could benefit the most from having online access to their test results, because they generally have less access to health services than people in regional areas and major cities.

This is evidenced by lower rates of bowel cancer screening, higher rates of potentially avoidable hospital admissions, and lower access to selected hospital procedures. Australians living in rural and remote areas are more likely to end up in an emergency department from a heart attack, car accident or diabetic coma.

Having online access to test results gives all Australians control over their own health management and provides greater remote support, which can also help in reducing duplication of tests and is especially important if a long journey is involved.

Consumers can also have control over what goes into their record and which organisations can access it and when, with the ability to restrict access to their record, using a record access code, or they can restrict access to individual documents. They can view the history of all access to their record, as well as choose to set up a range of notifications when activity occurs on their record.

The My Health Record system has multi-tiered security controls in place to protect health records in the system from malicious attack, with real time monitoring and surveillance, including a record of every access to the system.

The ADHA has also developed a National Digital Health Strategy through consultation with the Australian community and analysis of the evidence, and outlines a vision for 2022 focused on an evidence base of benefits prioritising national level digital health activity.

The corresponding Framework for Action supports this plan, as well as the outcomes of the seven strategic priorities by articulating the actions and initiatives necessary to deliver the benefits of digitally enabled health and care to Australians across the country.

Some of the main goals are avoiding or hospital admissions, fewer adverse drug events, reduced duplication of medical tests, better coordination of care for people with chronic and complex conditions and better informed treatment decisions.

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