The Commonwealth Government has passed a new law related to e-health, which aims to improve information exchange, sharing and management in the Australian health sector. It is a move away from paper-based systems towards electronic access, transmission and recording of health information.
Three kinds of healthcare identifier numbers are being introduced to support the new law:
- Individual Healthcare Identifier (IHI) - for individuals receiving healthcare services.
- Healthcare Provider Identifier-Individual (HPI-I) - for healthcare providers and other health personnel involved in providing patient care. This number is allocated by Medicare and is different from the national registration number issued by AHPRA in July 2010.
- Healthcare Provider Identifier-Organisation (HPI-O) - for organisations that deliver healthcare (such as hospitals or medical practices).
AHPRA issues an HPI-I to every registered practitioner in the national scheme.
When practitioners communicate with other healthcare professionals involved in the care of a patient (such as a specialist, hospital or pathology lab) they will send the IHI with that communication, as well as their own HPI-I and HPI-O. If the receiving provider also uses the identifiers, then they can rely on the number to identify the patient and the other provider.
From 1 July 2010, Medicare Australia has operated the Healthcare Identifiers (HI) Service. Healthcare providers can obtain the Individual Healthcare Identifiers (IHIs) of their patients from Medicare Australia, the HI Service Operator.
For more information about your HPI-I and how you can interact with the HI Service, visit the Medicare website.
For more information about eHealth, visit the eHealth website.