Patient engagement and the PCEHR, have we got the balance right?

Imagine you have brought your car to a workshop for a service. It’s an innovative workshop, so when the mechanic is finished with your car, he uploads the service information to a customer-friendly cloud system which you can access via your computer or mobile device. So far so good.

But… in this system customers are also able to shield entries off. Let’s say you don’t want a certain repair on your file because it was the result of an accident, so you make it invisible for anyone else but you. As a result, the next mechanic who works on your car is unaware that he’s missing information, and may do unnecessary work or worse, make mistakes.

The mechanic is legally responsible for the consequences of his work and will quickly discover that this customer-friendly system has serious flaws. Although the workshop is committed to providing a cutting edge service, the risks for the owners, employees, their families and the business as a whole, will likely not be acceptable for long.


Image: The government has taken approach A when developing the eHealth records system (PCEHR). A collaborative approach (C) would have been more beneficial for all parties.

Patients can hide information on their eRecords without informing the doctor. This is one of the reasons why providers will find it difficult to work with and rely on the current version of the PCEHR. Like others have said before me: the government has produced an eHealth record system that may work for patients but not for professionals (see image, scenario A).

To make matters worse, the government seems to think that if they keep pushing the PCEHR, people will give in. But there is a problem with this power approach: health providers will lose interest in eHealth in general and will be hard-pressed to engage with future eHealth developments.

We’ve got to get the balance right and make the system acceptable for all stakeholders. It’s easy to see that a collaborative approach will be more successful (see image, scenario C). Patients together with their nominated health professional should be made responsible for shielding off undesired items from the PCEHR, without creating more liability for providers.

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