The Australian government has encountered problems with the recent launch of its Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record system, or PCEHR system, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
The PCEHR initiative aims to let patients use an online tool to consolidate their records on medications, allergies, immunizations, doctors' notes and other health information.
The PCEHR project has faced low enrollment. Five days after the initiative launched on July 1, only 320 Australians had registered for the system.
The low enrollment numbers have led observers to express doubt that the program will meet its goal of registering 500,000 users in its first year.
Users have reported several other problems with the PCEHR system, such as:
- Consistently busy call center lines;
- A lack of awareness among government staff that registration was open; and
- An inability to register names with apostrophes (Molloy, Sydney Morning Herald, 7/9).
A spokesperson for Australia's Department of Health and Ageing said, "There was a technical problem with people whose names had an apostrophe which we picked up and are fixing." The spokesperson noted that there have not been issues with names containing other special characters like hyphens (Frost, Melbourne Herald Sun, 7/9).
Paul Madden -- deputy secretary and chief information officer of Australia's Department of Health and Ageing -- said the slow start to the PCEHR project will be beneficial. "We don't want to put a product out there until it is rock solid," he said, adding, "All of the components we need for a national PCEHR system have been built and have been tested. We will slowly release them out in a controlled way to make sure that they continue to work and all of the little bugs get ironed as we go through" (Sydney Morning Herald, 7/9).