Individual identity systems are a topic of great interest for this blog. The reason for this is that patient identification is a key requirement for any form of electronic health record and that NEHTA has been working to design a patient identity management system as one of the “building blocks” for e-health.
It now seems that Australia is to have an “access card” that will be needed to be presented when accessing all Commonwealth Government payment services (Medicare, Social Services and so on – in total 17 different services).
It is fair to say that denial that the proposed card is an ID card is disingenuous in the extreme and is to be condemned as an attempt at concealing the fact that this proposal goes much further that the publicly rejected Australia Card of the 1980’s in terms of potential for abuse and the scope of linkages being planned.
The claim the card is voluntary is equally a nonsense. If you choose to go without healthcare and social security benefits sure you could struggle on without it for a while at considerable expense – but how long will it be before it is needed to use State run services and finally private services. It will surely become all pervasive without firm legislative limitation – which has not been announced as far as I am aware.
The Government needs to come clean and be clear just what is proposed to manage scope creep and ID fraud before any one should support it.
Lastly it will be interesting to see how the proposed smartcard interacts with the proposed NEHTA patient ID proposal. Does this announcement pre-empt, support, interact with or have any other role in the development of the Australian EHR system.
This commentator will wait and wonder!