My Health Record app launches at last

The federal government has launched its My Health Record mobile app a year later than first planned to improve access to the digital health record that has long been under-utilised by Australians.

As government contemplates a broader overhaul of the “clunky” system, the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) will on Thursday release the ‘my health’ app after 16 months work by Adelaide-based IT consulting firm Chamonix.

The app was developed at a cost of $2.1 million to complement the existing digital channels used to access My Health Record, including myGov and third-party apps. It will sit alongside the myGov app launched by Services Australia in December.

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The ADHA first flagged the My Health Record app in July 2021 to improve accessibility to the information contained in the system, including COVID-19 immunisation certificates that at that time were being used across the economy.

Accessibility has been an ongoing issue for the My Health Record, with just 1.2 million unique records accessed in 2020-21, a figure that climbed to 3.2 million last financial year with the help of COVID-19. Total active records currently sit at 23.4 million.

Around 23 million records – or more than 98 per cent – also now contain some form of data, up from 5.39 million when the opt-out period ended in January 2019, adding weight to the argument for improved access.

ADHA chief executive Amanda Cattermole said the new app was a “logical technical development but also a direct response to consumer demand for access to health information” in the wake of the pandemic.

“One of the things we have learned from the surge in use of My Health Record is that around 75 per cent of interactions between the system and users occurred on mobile devices,” she said.

The app allows users to view their medicines, immunisations, scans, allergies, hospital visits and other documents from the home screen, with all interactions with the health system also viewable on a timeline.

Ms Cattermole said the agency has taken a co-design approach to the app throughout its development and that further improvements were plan “so that it responds to the needs of all Australians”.

The ADHA had first planned to launch a bare-bones version of the My Health Record app in early 2022, but missed the launch. A second planned release of the minimum viable product (MVP) was also missed last October.

The app’s release on Thursday comes as a significant program of work to modernise the technology underpinnings of the My Health Record system and other national digital health systems continues.

Last year, consulting giant Deloitte won a lucrative deal to deliver a new Health API Gateway, which is considered the foundation for a new “information-highway” across primary care, aged care and allied health settings.

The gateway, which the app will use to connect to the My Health Record system, went live at the end of a three-stage deployment in November. Deloitte has been paid $25.1 million over three years to deliver the critical piece of digital health infrastructure.

Supporting infrastructure for the My Health Record also migrated to Microsoft Azure as part of the modernisation program last year, with the ADHA subsequently exiting the Global Switch Ultimo data centre.

Despite the work undertake to date, Health minister Mark Butler last month flagged an overhaul of the “clunky” My Health Record after an expert taskforce found not enough health information is being shared between patients, practitioners and services.

My Health Records is one of the unfunded or only partially funded programs that is adding to the Budget pressures facing the Albanese government, alongside the modernising business registers program and digital identity.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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