The Productivity Commission has cast a spotlight on the underperformance of Australia's $2 billion My Health Record (MHR) system. 

Despite substantial federal investment, the system is hampered by significant usability issues, with less than 2 per cent of its documents ever being accessed by medical professionals.

The Commission's findings indicate that the MHR system, which was intended to centralise and streamline access to patient health data, suffers from poor interoperability and a user experience that clinicians find cumbersome. 

As a result, patient data remains scattered across multiple digital platforms operated by various healthcare providers.

Beyond diagnosing current issues, the report also points to several opportunities where digital technology could substantially improve efficiencies within the healthcare system and reduce costs. 

The Commission estimates that better integration of digital technology could potentially save more than $5 billion annually.

Specific improvements could include:

  • Better use of data within electronic medical records could potentially save up to $5.4 billion a year by decreasing hospital stays and avoiding redundant tests, which alone could save up to $355 million

  • While there has been a significant increase in the use of telehealth services since 2020, other digital services like remote patient monitoring and digital therapeutics have not been adopted as widely. Addressing funding gaps in these areas could reduce the reliance on in-person care, which is often more costly and less convenient for patients

  • The commission suggests that integrating AI more thoroughly could automate up to 30 per cent of current tasks performed by healthcare workers, thereby freeing up resources and time for patient care

The commission urges the government to consider new funding models that encourage the adoption of high-value digital services and to improve the integration and functionality of health data systems.

 Making patient information more comprehensive and accessible for clinicians can significantly enhance the usability of the MHR system.

The report also highlights the societal benefits of digital health innovations, noting that technologies like telehealth not only make healthcare more accessible but also reduce travel time, generating consumer savings of approximately $895 million per year.

The full details and recommendations from the Productivity Commission's report are accessible at