New Pharmacy regulations – what you need to know
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New Pharmacy regulations – what you need to know

New My Health Record guidelines released for Pharmacists
The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia in partnership with the Australian Digital Health Agency have released new guidelines to encourage Pharmacists to embrace the Federal Government’s new My Health Record system.

Access to key Pharmaceutical information
According to the guidelines, My Health Record Guidelines for Pharmacists, the My Health Record (MyHR) is relevant to Pharmacists because it provides electronic access to a patient’s key health information including medicines, allergies, medical conditions and test results, and supports improvements in the safety, quality and efficiency of Australia’s healthcare system.

For the pharmacist, the report highlighted greater access to patient health information in this way may:

  • Enable more efficient and effective medication reconciliation
  • Enhance their contribution to the quality use of medicines
  • Improve continuity of patient care.

“The ability for pharmacists to contribute patient health information to the My Health Record (e.g. dispense records, immunisation records) may also enhance communication with other healthcare providers caring for their patients, and improve health outcomes,” the guidelines stated.

Information access and security
Via MyHR, pharmacists are given access to health summaries, discharge summaries, imaging reports, pathology results, referrals, specialist letters, immunisation records, and prescription and dispense records.
Importantly, the guidelines outlined key Pharmaceutical functionality points of MyHR, including:

  • Medicines Information View
  • Prescription and Dispense View
  • Contributing Clinical Information
  • Dispensing information

Under the new guidelines, Pharmacists are being advised to be vigilant about the secure use of passwords, activate automatic screen savers and train staff on the new legislative framework, its impact of Pharmaceutical services and the introduction of any new system functionality.

“Pharmacists have a professional responsibility to review their practice and integrate the use of the My Health Record system into patient care, where appropriate,” the guidelines said. “Pharmacists are encouraged to display a sign to advise their patients of their use of, or decision not to use, the My Health Record system.”
The guidelines provide data security advice to minimise the misuse of the My Health Record system such as activating screen saver mode automatically activated when a page is inactive for more than one minute, ensure clinical information systems are password protected, and passwords are changed regularly. The guidelines also offer protocols for managing clinical incidents, including the uploading of a document to the wrong patient’s MyHR.
Importantly, the guidelines stressed Pharmacy organisations must have established policies and procedures to govern their use of the My Health Record system.

“Policies and procedures must meet legislative requirements and relevant professional practice standards,” it stressed. “All My Health Record policies and procedures must be regularly reviewed and updated as required as part of quality assurance and evaluation processes (see Quality assurance).”

But despite these strict regulatory requirements, and changes to work practices and workflows, the guidelines highlighted that the My Health Record system does not replace direct sharing of health information (i.e. in person or via telephone) between healthcare providers or with patients.

Patient consent to Pharmacists accessing information
Importantly, the guidelines recommend Pharmacists at a participating organisation providing care to a patient can view information in the relevant My Health Record without obtaining the consent of the individual.

The legislative framework governing the My Health Record system allows a healthcare provider of a participating organisation to view information in a patient’s My Health Record without obtaining consent from the individual, on the condition that they are providing care to that patient.

Currently, patients provide ‘standing consent’ when they register for a My Health Record. This enables all healthcare provider organisations directly involved in their care to upload clinical information to their record.

Generally, there is no requirement for a healthcare provider directly involved in a patient’s care to obtain consent prior to viewing or uploading clinical information to the My Health Record system. There is also no requirement for a patient to review clinical information prior to it being uploaded.

Pharmacists will also be able to contribute patient health information to MyHR, and the guidelines provide pharmacists with advice on the legislative requirements for patient consent in cases involving sensitive diagnoses and treatments.

Following the My Health Record expansion program, all Australians are set to have a record by the end of 2018, unless they choose not to have one.