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14 Feb 2019
Ministry of Health
Suggestion View - 300
Review the approach of NEHR

The govt announced in November 2017 that it will be compulsory for all medical providers, including general practitioners, to submit details of patient treatments in a National Electronic Health Record system (NEHR).  Read here.

At that time, I responded with a post to suggest that the exercise should be carried out in phases and, in the first instance, it should only involve the hospitals. Read here.

I have not heard any news of further development on the NEHR system. I guess that the new law has not been passed by parliament.

In the meantime, we have seen two serious data breaches, namely the SingHealth cyber attack and the breach of the HIV patient register.

We should re-think the value of the NEHR system.

Here are my views.

a) There is value in a NEHR system, but it should only record the essential and valuable information. It should not record all consultations and treatments.

b) At an initial stage, it should record all inpatient and outpatient treatments in hospitals and medical checkup reports that are subsidized by the govt. 

c) Patients should be given the option to request for certain sensitive data to be excluded from the NEHR. The list of these exclusions should be covered in an approved list. 

d) The patient should be alerted by a SMS of all access to his or her NEHR record. The access should indicate the date, time, doctor and purpose of the access.

With these safeguards, the NEHR system can be a positive feature of our health care system. We need to implement it correctly, so that the benefits outweigh the cost.

Tan Kin Lian

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