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Monday, 23 November 2009
Page: 8603

Senator SIEWERT (7:48 PM) —I move Australian Greens amendment (3) on sheet 5963:

(3)    Schedule 1, page 10 (after line 19), after section 129AAJ, insert:

129AAK  Routine audit requirements

         (1)    The regulations may prescribe requirements for medical practitioners to submit routine records of consultations online for the purposes of Medicare audit processes, including the following:

              (a)    the purpose of the consultation;

              (b)    the service or services rendered;

              (c)    length of time;

              (d)    referrals made.

         (2)    The regulations may prescribe a timeframe for compliance with the requirement to submit records, reflecting a general intention that records will be submitted online during each consultation as a matter of course.

         (3)    The Minister must take all reasonable steps to ensure that regulations for the purposes of subsection (1) are made before 1 July 2010.

As foreshadowed in my second reading contribution, this amendment relates to the two-stage process we are trying to establish through our amendments. This one particularly deals with medical practitioners capturing accurate details for patient consultations as a matter of course. The details of the records will be captured to include the purpose of the consultation, services rendered, time span and referrals made. It asks for the regulations to prescribe a time frame for how long the medical practitioner should have to upload these details to ensure they are done in a timely manner, and the time frame required in order to implement these regulations.

The Greens think this is important. It is an issue that was highlighted during the committee phase. The committee heard a lot of evidence from medical practitioners that the audit process was overly burdensome. Essentially, some medical practitioners admitted that their record keeping was not up to scratch. They said they had to go through boxes of medical records—something I found quite astounding. The objection put to us by some medical practitioners is that it would take a long time to pull this information out of their records. We thought that the way to ensure this data was collected would be to do it electronically. Frankly, I am astonished this is not required to be filled in as a matter of course. I must admit I have not been to a surgery lately that does not do all their records electronically straightaway. The Greens believe this amendment will assist with the audit process and help those medical practitioners who find it hard to keep their records.