GP Practices Miss Out On PIP Payments for the e-Health Record

GP holding a notepad with a stethoscope around his neck

Electronic health records exist to store important health information about a patient, such as allergies and current medication, all in one place and accessible online by doctors, specialists and hospital staff to improve patient care. An e-health record system has been established in Australia in part to combat medication errors and reduce time spent collecting information from patients.

Initially titled the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record, Australia’s e-health record system was announced in the 2010/11 Australian federal budget and launched on July 1 2012 but was not subsequently taken up by both the public and health professionals as hoped.


In May 2015 the government announced funding of $485m to ‘rescue’ the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record and changed the name to My Health Record. Despite the reboot, statistics show that only 4.1m people – around one in six – are on the national digital health record system.

Over 9000 healthcare providers are connected but it has not been widely adopted by GPs due to perceived issues with the e-health record system including incompatibility with existing software and the ability for patients to edit records. There are also concerns around complexity, privacy and accessibility of data.

The Practice Incentives Program (PIP) eHealth Incentive aims to encourage GPs to embrace the latest technology and use the electronic health records system. GPs must register for PIP payments and to be eligible they must also meet additional requirements including secure messaging capability, and ensuring that the majority of prescriptions are sent electronically.

Although hospitals are now uploading thousands of discharge summaries to e-health records on a monthly basis, only a few hundred GPs appeared to be actively using the system at the beginning of this year.

In response to the continued slow uptake, controversial targets were introduced in May 2016 requesting general practices upload a minimum of .5% shared health summaries to the My Health Record system in order to receive e-health PIP payments.

Recently it was revealed by the Australian Medical Association that 1500 registered general practices had missed the targets for uploading shared health summaries to the electronic health records system, leaving a third of GPs who were previously receiving the PIP payment an estimated $23k out of pocket. A further 69 practices simply withdrew from the electronic health records incentive program.

The e-health PIP requirements have been criticised as harmful on top of the Medicare rebate freeze and other funding cuts for overworked GPs, and advocating bodies continue to lobby the government to postpone or prohibit the upload target.