The HI Service is a core component of the broader range of programs addressed in the National e-Health Strategy. The HI Service Concept of Operations1 released by NEHTA in 2010 states that the purpose of the HI Service is “to assign, issue and maintain national Healthcare Identifiers for consumers and providers”. The capacity to accurately identify individuals seeking healthcare, healthcare providers and organisations is critical to:
- The ability to communicate health information between providers with a high level of confidence that the information is being sent about the right person, to the right person; and
- The ability to apply security and access controls that will give the community confidence in the system and in e-Health.
This will enable:
- Safer, more effective care for individuals that is better co-ordinated between the many services and healthcare providers that a person may access in relation to a single episode of care, as well as over their lifetime.
- More active consumer involvement in their health care and management of their health information.
- A more efficient health system with reduced fragmentation and duplication of services.
- Continuous improvement in the health system through improved monitoring of patient outcomes.
- Improved management of health services, population health activities and research.
Although a separate service, the HI Service is core to the PCEHR system and other e-Health initiatives such as secure messaging and medication management.
The widespread adoption and use of national Healthcare Identifiers is critical to support these functions. The basis of participation in the Service was changed from a voluntary model after the National e-Health and Information Principle Committee advised the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC) that voluntary participation would significantly constrain the widespread uptake of Individual Healthcare Identifiers (IHI) and the capacity for health services to adopt IHIs as their primary identifiers, flagged as a potential benefit of the Service in the Concept of Operations.