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GPs lose $11m for My Health Record failures

General practices are forced to repay an average of $9,000 each, forfeiting almost $11 million in e-PIP incentives for not uploading for My Health Record shared health summaries, the Department of Health has revealed.

Introduced in May 2016, the Practice Incentive Program (PIP) e-Health incentive required general practices to contribute shared health summaries to the My Health Record system for their patients.

Under the scheme, general practices were required to upload Shared Health Summaries for a minimum of 0.5% of the practice’s standardised whole patient equivalent (SWPE) to be eligible for the PIP eHealth Incentive payment. All other incentive obligations and requirements were to remain the same.

The incentive program also required general practices to ensure that where clinically relevant, they were working towards recording the majority of diagnoses for active patients electronically, using a medical vocabulary that could be mapped against a nationally recognised disease classification or terminology system. Practices were also required to provide a written policy to this effect to all GPs within the practice.

However, according to recent health department figures, out of the 5000 practices registered for the program, approximately 1,440 were requested to repay the funds in April, after falling short of the My Health Record requirements.

And despite around 400 General Practices appealing the decision, over 1,000 were still forced to repay an average of $9,000 each by the end of November 2017, with some facing hefty repayment debts of over $20,000.

But the appeals by the General Practices revealed part of the hiccup in the process was the lack of a robust IT system, with some General Practices revealing they simply failed to be able to overcome the technical issues in successfully registering patients.

Meanwhile new figures released by the Australian Digital Health Agency, which is rolling out the national repository for health information, showed alarmingly low usage of the My Health Record system across not only GPs, but also hospitals and specialists. This is despite the fact that over 5.3 million people currently have a My Health Record and almost 3 million clinical documents are held within the system.

According to the report, while 21 per cent of the population has a My Health Record, only 263 specialists were connected to the system, less than 150 hospital discharge summaries are viewed each month by any healthcare organisation, and about 200 GP-generated shared health summaries were accessed by staff working in public and private hospitals in August.

Given expectations that by the end of 2018, every Australian will have a My Health Record unless they opt-out, the pressure is now on the Federal Government to revisit the usage debate and further streamline uptake incentives for the scheme by medical professionals.

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