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EVERY Australian would be able to see their medical records online and keep a personalised "health diary" under massive reforms promising better care and big taxpayer savings.
GPs would be forced to link patient records to a national database or miss out on lucrative Medicare payments, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's hand-picked health reform body has called for patients to have the ultimate say over who sees their records.
The National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission - whose final report was sent to the printers last week - has avoided urging a federal takeover of public hospitals.
It has outlined the biggest health shake-up for decades, including plans for a Denticare scheme, to provide affordable dental care. Denticare would be funded by a 0.75 per cent rise in the Medicare levy.
Medicos would be offered tax incentives and "top-up payments" to work in rural communities.
Trainee doctors would also have their HECS fees slashed if they committed to work in rural practices.
Central to the reform is rolling out a national electronic health system.
* Health records go onlineAdelaide Now, 20 Jul 2009
* Essential e-health is watertightAdelaide Now, 20 Jul 2009
* Online eye at med recordsHerald Sun, 20 Jul 2009
* Developers need health ID specsAustralian IT, 30 Jun 2009
* Reader's Comments: Medicare the base for e-health IDsNEWS.com.au,
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Medical professionals would have to get patient permission to access the data. New privacy legislation would protect the information.
Emergency provisions could allow access to the data in time of medical crisis, such as after a car accident or during a serious allergic reaction.
Giving people access to their own records is seen as vital to ensure consumer acceptance of the proposed e-health revolution.
This would allow individuals to go online and update their records and add relevant information.
Medical professionals have called for a national e-health system, which could save $8 billion over 10 years.
The system could track chronic disease sufferers, store scans and X-rays and send SMS reminders telling patients to fill prescriptions.
GPs, specialists, pharmacists and other health professionals would all have to become "e-enabled".
The plan to deny Medicare payments to GPs who don't sign up will anger the doctors' lobby, which wants incentives for members to co-operate.
At the heart of the reforms is a push to keep Australians out of hospital by preventing disease, improving access to GPs and fixing the aged-care sector.
A separate report calls for comprehensive health centres across the country. The centres would bring together doctors, nurses, pathology, imaging and other services.
Mr Rudd is under pressure to deliver health reforms, having promised a plebiscite on a federal takeover if the system hadn't improved mid-way through his first term.