My Health Record in Rural Australia

What is My Health Record?

My Health Record is a secure online summary of an individual’s health information. This means your important health information is available when and where it’s needed, including in an emergency. My Health Record is available to everyone who has a Medicare card, Veteran Card or an individual healthcare identifier (IHI). Most Australians now have a My Health Record. 

My Health Record has benefits for individuals and healthcare providers. A person can view and update their personal information, add emergency contacts and advance care planning documents, set up email or SMS notifications and check Medicare information.

Healthcare providers can upload clinical documents to an individual’s My Health Record which ensures information is current and other health providers can access critical information which saves time and improves the quality of care that can be provided.  Healthcare providers including doctors, pathologists, and pharmacists can upload clinical documents to a record including:

What is the benefit of My Health Record to individuals in rural Australia?

People living in rural locations may have multiple health providers, potentially in different locations.  My Health Record provides a mechanism to store essential information and details in one place which allows both the person and their healthcare providers to access important health information when needed.

Rural Australians stand to benefit the most from having a My Health Record as they have higher exposure to health risks and injury, experience higher levels of disease and have less access to and use of health services compared to people in metropolitan areas.i

People living in rural and remote areas have higher rates of hospitalisations, deaths, injury and also have poorer access to, and use of, primary health care services, than people living in major cities.ii This means that Australians living in rural and remote areas are more likely to end up in an emergency departmentiii from a heart attack, car accident or diabetic coma. If they’re unconscious, and the medical team doesn’t have access to their health history, it will limit the capacity of the team to provide life-saving care.

Residents in rural Australia can benefit from My Health Record in the following ways:

  • prompt access to key health information in an emergency
  • secure, convenient access to health information
  • safer, faster more efficient care
  • less need to remember key aspects of their medical history and medications
  • improved management of health information
  • informed self-management of health conditions

What are the benefits for rural health professionals?

In rural, regional and remote (rural) Australia, distances can make communication with other health professionals and health practices challenging.  Many rural patients may see health providers in multiple locations including visits to metropolitan and regional centres.  The technology used in My Health Record enables patient data to be continually updated, meaning information can be available as needed without the requirement for time consuming phone calls and chasing other health providers for information.  The benefits of My Health Record for rural health professionals include that it:

  • provides immediate access to key health information
  • facilitates the validation and verification of clinical information
  • avoids adverse medication events and provides access to allergy information
  • avoids duplication of tests and diagnostic imaging
  • provides immunisation details
  • facilitates continuity and co-ordination of care across multi-disciplinary health providers
  • improves continuity of care and informs end of life care.

For the latest statistics about digital health: see the digital health agency page:

Digital Literacy

Digital literacy means having the skills needed to live, learn, and work in a society where communications and access to information is increasingly through digital technologies like the internet, social media and mobile devices.

To ensure high uptake and the best of usage of My Health Record requires a level of digital literacy across all sections of the population.  Strategies to improve digital literacy for people living in rural areas is an important element to improving access to digital health and other technologies into the future.

Several national and state programs offer partnership opportunities for local organisations and community groups to provide free or low cost digital skills training.

  • Be Connected - an Australian Government initiative aimed at increasing the confidence, skills and online safety of older Australians in using digital technology.
  • Go Digi is a four-year digital literacy program with the goal of supporting more than 300,000 Australians to improve their digital skills.
  • Tech Savvy Seniors helps older people to develop skills and confidence to use technology for socialising, accessing services or conducting personal business.

The Australian Digital Health Agency also has a suite of free resources and education materials to support consumer digital health literacy and understanding the My Health Record.

Recording advance care planning preferences on My Health Record

Individuals can add advance care planning documents to their My Health Record. They can make their wishes known when they cannot speak for themselves. Advance care planning involves speaking with family or friends and healthcare providers about future health care wishes. These conversations may lead to documenting what a person may or may not want in circumstances where they can no longer speak for themselves or make their own decisions.  Adding an advance care planning document to My Health Record can mean this information is safely and securely accessible if it were ever needed in a medical emergency. Advance care planning documents can be added to My Health Record and updated at any time.  People living in rural Australia may have to think about factors unique to their location, such as distance to hospitals, reduced access to defibrillators, paramedics etc.  This can affect end of life care decisions and it is important that any preferences for care in an emergency or at the end of life are recorded.  My Health Record provides a secure platform for people in the regions to load their advance planning documentation.

My Health Record can upload:

  • A scanned PDF copy of an advance care plan; and
  • Advance care document custodian’s details.An advance care document custodian is someone who holds a copy of a person’s advance care planning document.Up to two custodians for a person’s advance care plan can be stored in My Health Record.

For further information on how to add advance care planning documents to My Health Record, see the link at the Australian Digital Health Agency: Advance care planning | Australian Digital Health Agency

Aged Care Services and My Health Record

Older Australians are encouraged to actively use their My Health Record, particularly as older Australians are likely to experience higher rates of chronic illness and be prescribed multiple medications.  My Health Record will enable an older person to have their medical history, prescriptions and test results in one place.

There are benefits for residents and for aged care providers where residents and aged care clients have their information updated through My Health Record.  The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety noted that “the transition to a digital care management system interoperable with My Health Record will result in a safer, more efficient and more comprehensive transfer of critical information related to a person’s relevant care and medical history.  Universal adoption by approved providers of My Health Record will ensure that multiple health care and aged care providers can access one central source of health information about people receiving aged care.  This may be particularly relevant for older Australians living in rural communities who frequently have to leave their communities to access advanced levels of care or crisis care.

Further Information about My Health Record:

Further information about My Health Record and other relevant information can be found at the following sources:

General information about My Health Record:

Frequently Asked Questions about My Health Record:

Information about how an individual can securely view health information in their record through the HealthNow app including accessing  proof of vaccination and immunisation history:  View My Health Record via an app | Australian Digital Health Agency

Information about My Health Record Electronic tips Prescription tips for consumers including specific information about COVID-19 vaccination and booster reminders:

Health Record and Electronic Prescriptions tips for consumers

Information about telehealth can be found on the Australian Digital Health Agency’s website: Specific information about what can be claimed through the Medicare Benefits Schedule found at The Department of Health and Aged Care Website:


i National Rural Health Alliance.  Rural Health in Australia Snapshot 2021. {cited 2022 Oct], Rural_health_in_Australia_snapshot_111121-ref - NRHA_Rural_health_in_Australia_snapshot.pdf (

ii Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIIHW), Rural and Remote Health [cited 2022 Oct]

iii Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), Emergency Department Care, [cited 2022 Oct].


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