26 September 2023

New Health system to save lives

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Health information collected in hospitals and other health services in Victoria is to be brought to a centralised location to allow the public health system to access it quickly if a new Bill is successful in Parliament.

Introduced by the Minister for Health, Mary-Anne Thomas, the Health Legislation Amendment (Information Sharing) Bill 2023 would allow the State’s hospitals and health services to access quickly accurate patient information.

“The system will only be accessible by clinical staff and provide access to vital medical information irrespective of where the patient previously received care,” Ms Thomas said.

“The new arrangements will be useful for patients with chronic conditions or in emergency situations who are often too unwell or unable to communicate to healthcare workers their allergies, past diagnostic tests, and treatments,” she said.

“It will also assist patients with language barriers, provide better support for Telehealth and virtual care, and help Ambulance Victoria make more accurate assessments of patient care needs.”

Ms Thomas said that currently a patient’s clinical information was stored in different places which slowed down diagnosis and treatment.

She said requesting information from multiple different hospitals manually could be a lengthy process for doctors and nurses, “but these changes will create a stronger and more connected system”.

“The new system will have strict security and privacy controls, including safeguards to record where and when information about a patient is shared,” the Minister said.

“Unauthorised access, use or disclosure of information from the system will see offenders face strict penalties,” she said.

Ms Thomas said similar information sharing systems were already operating in other parts of Australia and this legislation would bring Victoria into line with other States and Territories.

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