We stand by our decision to ask the privacy commissioner to investigate this issue and thank him for his consideration of this matter.
As vendors whose technology makes the collection of identifiable health information in this way possible, we are relieved that he has found no breach of the HIPC.
However, we remain concerned that many patients are not being kept well informed about the collection of their identifiable medical data by PHOs.
Our members repeatedly raised this issue with ProCare before approaching the privacy commissioner and the media.
The assertion made by ProCare on TVNZ that the recent introduction of the NES required patients to re-register with their PHOs on updated enrolment forms (and that this fulfilled obligations to patients), was later retracted as being incorrect by the PHO.
So, we are heartened to hear that ProCare now plans to provide more assistance to GP clinics over this critical step.
Open discussion about privacy issues and public awareness is vital to allow the safe and seamless sharing of medical data.
The public’s trust must be retained at every step of the creation of any medical database.
Australia is right now dealing with the fallout from a loss of public confidence in sharing their medical data due to controversy over attempts to introduce a national electronic health record system.
Technology strategies can achieve information sharing in a manner that respects individuals’ privacy and should be used in New Zealand.
Individual patient consent about who can see medical records is a vital step in this process.
We look forward to further discussion about these issues before any new national electronic health records strategy is decided on.
"One of the fundamental unspoken contracts that exists every time a patient sees a doctor is that all of the information obtained and recorded during a consultation will be kept confidential, unless the patient decides to release this information to a third party.
"This is the basis of the doctor–patient relationship.
"Any breach of this confidential relationship can have devastating consequences on the way doctors and patients work together.
"I have started to see this concern creep in, with an increasing number of patients saying, 'Please don’t record this'” - Dr Harry Nespolon, President-elect of The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners - August 2018.
We believe that the digitisation of health records is a process that needs to be undertaken with extreme care.
While a fully digital medical records system is something which will have immense value to the country, the health system and the individual patient, there are a number of international initiatives that have failed. Some of them have failed spectacularly and at considerable cost.
The common thread among all failed computerisation efforts is the loss of public trust.
We believe that in New Zealand we have the chance to maintain and increase public trust and to put in place a system which will enable the seamless sharing of medical data when it is needed.
However, to achieve that the public’s trust must be retained at every step.
Dr Ashwin Patel, Director, My Practice,
Tom Bowden, CEO, HealthLink,
Vino Ramayah, CEO, Medtech Global
Dr Frank Pyefinch, Best Practice Software New Zealand.