Position Statement

Unique Healthcare Identifiers - 2008


This document outlines the AMA position on Unique Healthcare Identifiers. It supersedes the previous AMA Position Statement on Unique Patient Identifiers (2000).

1. Background

1.1. The AMA is committed to achieving better health outcomes for all Australians by working with stakeholders to realise the objectives of a unique healthcare identifier.

1.2. The Council of Australian Governments has committed Australia to a single, national approach to identifying individuals and healthcare providers for the purposes of health communications.

1.3. In January 2008 Medicare Australia was contracted by the National E-Health Transition Authority to design and build the unique healthcare identifier system to support a future national approach to individual electronic health records.

2. Purpose of a Unique Healthcare Identifier

2.1. A unique healthcare identifier is an enabling technology which will facilitate the secure access and appropriate sharing of a patient's electronic health record by healthcare providers.

2.2. A UHI will uniquely identify:
a. Individuals (patients);
b. Individual registered healthcare providers (eg. General practitioners, pharmacists, pathologists); and
c. Healthcare organisations (eg. Hospitals, pharmacies, pathology laboratories).

2.3. A unique number will offer greater security of access and protection of who can share individual electronic health records.

3. AMA Position

3.1. The AMA supports the development of a unique healthcare identifier and recognises it as an essential building block towards the implementation of a national individual electronic health record;

3.2. The AMA believes medical practitioners and consumers must be involved in the development, implementation and evaluation of a unique healthcare identifier;

3.3. The AMA believes the unique healthcare identifier should be used solely to identify individuals for the purposes of accessing and sharing individual electronic health records;

3.4. The AMA encourages individuals and healthcare providers to obtain a unique healthcare identifier so they can share individual electronic health records securely;

3.5. The AMA supports systems and legislation that protects the personal information attached to the unique healthcare identifier and
a. sets out the precise use and nature of the information and the unique healthcare identifier;
b. protects the collection of and access to the unique healthcare identifier information;
c. protects the privacy, security and confidentiality of the unique healthcare identifier information;
d. prohibits unauthorised use of the unique healthcare identifier information;
e. provides penalties for misuse of the unique healthcare identifier.

The AMA Expert Advisory Committee on Information Technology has principal carriage of the Position Statement of Unique Healthcare Identifiers.

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