Patients could not access their medical records until after two years, according to Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon.

As of press time, only Medicare has been given an authority to operate a secure website or portal that would permit patients to access their personally controlled electronic health records, she said.

However, she is not closing the doors for other service providers, particularly the health insurance providers, that can manage patients' e-health records in the future.

Medicare issues a 16-digit healthcare identification for each patient to gain entry to its e-health records.

Medicare will commence its unique healthcare identifier number to every Australian, doctor, hospital, health care organization and allied health provider starting next month.

Legislation to establish the health care identification service was quickly approved by the Parliament on Thursday after Julia Gillard assumed her post as the new Prime Minister.

A Health Department spokesperson disclosed today the identifiers will be given to patients and providers after receipt of royal assent will be expected today. Regulations will be drafted that may permit healthcare providers to access the health care identification service.

Ms. Roxon said yesterday the Government has tapped Medicare to manage the portla.

Medicare is a trusted provider and the decision has been made at this early stage to use it, she said.
We have a difficult design task ahead of us to make sure that we are confident that patient records are secure and are accessed by only those people who have permission to do so, Ms Roxon said.

She added that there is a possibility the platform may be run by another service provider in the future.

Ms. Roxon also cleared out that patients would still be able to make Medicare claims even if they opt not to use the e-health service.

The government is not going to put conditions which say you can't get your Medicare benefit unless you use your electronic health record, Ms Roxon said.

The patient will decide whether or not they want their specialist to see the records of their doctor or whether they want a new doctor to see the records.

At least $467 million budget was allocated from the Federal Government to develop the e-health records system.