Digital Health Record failing patients before it even begins


The ACT Government’s transition to the Digital Health Record is already failing patients, before it even begins.

Three weeks ago, staff at The Canberra Hospital’s Medical Transcription area were told that Dragon voice to text software would be replacing their jobs when the Digital Health Record goes live in November. This was without any consultation or consideration for patient wellbeing.

This work is highly complex and sensitive, and the consequences of any errors is potentially life threatening or life altering.

The Canberra Hospital has a workforce of fifteen women who are highly trained medical transcriptionists and have decades of specialised experience between them. Every day, they translate doctors verbal notes into letters that get sent to Canberrans accessing medical services at the hospital. The ACT Government wants to replace this service with an automated software program.

We know how busy our doctors are. The ACT Government should not be pushing them to do more administration work when there are specialist transcriptionists already on staff.


“Replacing highly trained specialised transcriptionists with an automated software program is risky business. Our members understand medical terms and interactions and translate this into letters that Canberrans receive every day with critical health information.”

“In response to CPSU questioning about not activating this software, the ACT Government has said they cannot turn it off. Regardless of whether that software can or cannot be turned off, medical transcriptionists and the community rely on these services. There is nothing stopping ACT Government continuing the manual process that we know delivers better service.”

“The ACT Government must immediately put on hold plans to cut manual transcription services. Our members can tell the difference between ileum and ilium, peroneal and perineal and the difference between hyperthermia and hypothermia. It would be a brave person that suggested a software program can use each of these terms in the right context. The risks of getting it wrong could be life changing or life ending.”

“Just because you can replace workers with automated systems, doesn’t mean you should.”

/Public Release. View in full here.