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Cross-Tasman tech leaders consider creating a health ‘passport’

Wednesday, 14 March 2018   (0 Comments)
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eHealthNews editor Rebecca McBeth

Development of a consumer app that holds verified medication information for clinicians to view if a New Zealander or Australian requires medical assistance while across the Tasman is being explored.


Health technology leaders discussed the creation of a health ‘passport’ at the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum in Sydney this month.


The passport would start as a simple consumer app that holds verified medication information for clinicians to view if a New Zealander or Australian requires medical assistance while travelling across the Tasman.


The idea was tabled at the forum’s Health Technology Working Group by NZHIT deputy chair Ross Peat.


He says the passport would provide information to health professionals who sometimes have to treat patients without sufficient information about the medications they are taking, which creates risk in terms of adverse reactions and allergies.


Peat, who is executive director of New Zealand pharmacy software supplier RxOne, says the idea of a health passport has been discussed in the past, but it is a complex concept involving many parties and progress has been steady at best.


“What we wanted was to come up with an electronic passport Version 1,” he tells eHealthNews.


“It’s a very simple proposition and it’s not the end solution as it’s just medications, but we thought with this simple scenario we could get something going, and this health passport could become a building block upon which additional information could be added,” he explains.


The pilot concept involves a patient going to their pharmacy and requesting a copy of their medication record. The pharmacist verifies the consumer then selects current medicine information from within their own pharmacy system to send to the health passport system. 


The health passport system would create a blockchain record of the person’s medications and digitally sign the record after checking it against the New Zealand digital claim certificate or the Australian My Health Record certificate.


All information would be encrypted and verified to ensure the data is kept safe and secure before being imported into an app on the person’s personal device.


Peat says putting the patient in control of the information helps to simplify the privacy and security issues, as they can choose who to share it with.


The passport would support the checking of drugs that have different names in Australia and New Zealand.


“The feedback from the round-table discussions was generally pretty positive; there’s a drive to get something done within the next six to nine months,” Peat says.


How the pilot would be funded is yet to be discussed or decided.


“It won’t be vastly expensive, but it does require some development around the mobile app and blockchain technology,” he says.


His view is that the app should be free to consumers as this would encourage uptake.


The working group will review the ideas tabled in their meeting later this month and, if approved, the process for developing the health passport pilot will be determined.


New Zealand was represented on the Health Technology Working Group by NZHIT chief executive Scott Arrol, chair Kate Reid and Peat.


PROJECT CONTACT: To find out more about this project please contact Ross Peat

contact Ross Peat


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