Please allow me to introduce you to the joys of MyGov. As an IT professional anything I can do on-line, I will. Certainly saves standing in queues.
For overseas readers (or newish arrivals to Australia) we have a few government services we can access through a central portal and single log on. I quite like it. When it works.
The services at the time of writing are:
- Australian Tax Office – no explanation necessary, I am sure
- Centrelink – unemployment benefits and family assistance, aged pensions etc – absorbed into Human Services
- Medicare – commonwealth run health insurance – absorbed into Human Services
- eHealth – our medical history centralised in one place (new innovation)
- National Disability Insurance Scheme – I don’t know much about this
- Veterans’ Affairs – for our returned services personnel
- Child Support Agency – manages collection of child support from parents
- Australian Job Search – to assist the unemployed find jobs
The login screen looks like this:
Quite snazzy in a governmental sort of way. When you first set up your account, which I did when it was tax return time, it IS a lengthy process to identify yourself to the various member services. For the Tax Office you need your tax file number, your last assessment, your bank account details and the gross amount from your current year’s payment summary. When I did it, it said either of the prior two years would be accepted, but no, it only accepted the current year.
Once you have created your MyGov account you have the meaningless username you will never remember and an equally difficult password. I use a KeePass Password Safe to keep track of these things. That way I only have to remember one complicated password! Just don’t lose your KeePass file!
Then I linked my Centrelink account, Medicare and my eHealth Record System accounts. I had signed up for eHealth when I very embarrassingly couldn’t remember when or where I had had a procedure done some years ago, or by whom. I thought with an ageing brain pulling all this stuff together in one place sounded like an eminently sensible idea. Let them track it, rather than me! I thought it would be great for the kids to have complete records too, so set up the three under eighteen.
You can set up your MyGov account to send a security code to your mobile phone when you log in. Much better than those silly security questions: I can never remember exactly what I typed. Did I use capitals? Did I say school or primary school? The code is quick and easy and I love it. Provided your mobile isn’t on the blink, of course.
On the following screens, I have erased identifying information as not all the screens are mine. Once you have logged in and entered your security code, the main screen looks like this:
There is a mailbox so no chance of the kids losing vital communications. Very useful, let me tell you! The other main buttons there I won’t bore you with, the most important are the buttons at the bottom of the screen – the services you have personally linked.
I have discovered some work better than others. The Tax Department site I was pretty happy with. It worked well, was intuitive and usability wasn’t at all bad. Congratulations Mr Tax Man! My only complaint was it is impossible to go and reprint an assessment when you need it for something else, such as one of your kids applying for Youth Allowance or applying for a bank loan or any one of a number of other uses you may have for a tax assessment notice. Why not let taxpayers reprint their tax assessment notices?
Centrelink seems to have a few functional issues. I reported some of them and received a very nice thank you letter for helping them to improve their web site. It you want to send them a message, the final screen of the process seems to just hang…..and hang…..until eventually in frustration you just close the browser window. There is an area to request forms and an area to upload forms to Centrelink except the latter was crashing for forty-eight hours so I reverted to snail mail to submit a form. Would you believe when I went to grab an image of the error message tonight for this article, they’d fixed it! So now they have the form twice. I do hope no confusion results.
Notice the message about the school kids bonus? That’s been there for days. I don’t know what it means, but I’ll be interested to see how long it takes before the message disappears. It is certainly an apology of some sort!
Notice also the Return to MyGov button in the top right hand corner. Very useful that is. It is on the Medicare, CentreLink and Tax Office pages – but not, for some inexplicable reason, on the eHealth screens. Once you get into eHealth, your only option is to log out and you are out of everything. Inconsistent. Confusing for the users. When you are in the Tax Office and click to return to MyGov, you are taken to a different MyGov screen than when returning from Medicare or Centrelink! Why?
Have I confused you yet?
Once on the Centrelink site I completed some details on line and got myself in a loop because I’d get to the end of the section and the system kept telling me I had not entered all the required information, but wasn’t smart enough to tell me what it was I had omitted. VERY FRUSTRATING! It took me ages to work out it was to do with a date that I had entered, but that didn’t fit their criteria for that particular question. Usability flaw! I must have gone through five screens five times before I figured it out. Very grumpy I was. A nice red arrow or something would have been useful! Error trap on the screen with the problem even, don’t wait until four screens later to tell me I got something wrong five screens ago and take me back to the first screen again!
When I was helping Miss O 1 link her Medicare to her MyGov it wanted information about the last doctor she saw. We think we had it right, but the computer said NO! So that is one problem we haven’t solved yet.
Now eHealth I’m struggling with, really I am. I know it is new, I know health providers are progressively getting involved and I know there has been resistance from some quarters about the whole system, but I personally think it is useful. This is only the left hand side of the eHealth home screen – the right hand side I am not sharing as it is a list of full names and dates of birth for the children and I. Overall, the snazziest of the five sites. Love the logo, modern and fresh, the buttons are big, usability is great.
Then I was disappointed. I don’t know what I expected actually, so I probably had no right to be disappointed. The eHealth website says:
Your eHealth record allows you and your doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers to view and share your health information to provide you with the best possible care.
I took “share your health information” to mean all my recent scans and blood test results would be there. After all, one place had scans available on my mobile phone five minutes after I had the scans! Surely they would be on the big fancy new eHealth web site? Well, actually, no, they are not there. I dug a little deeper into the FAQs (that means Frequently Asked Questions for the uninitiated) and found out why.
It is expected that you may start to see your pathology and diagnostic imaging reports in your eHealth record from mid-2015, once the Clinical Information Systems used by healthcare providers have been upgraded with the functionality to upload these reports to your eHealth record.
I do think the colour scheme could be a little nicer on these screens. They don’t live up to the promise of the lovely home screen at all. The bright orange clashes with the purple and when expanding some of those orange boxes that do have data, the column is too narrow and the data cut off. Of course that is going to depend on the screen in use and I’ve not tried my large screen yet. These informational screens need a little more artistic flair.
Prescriptions are listing nicely, but I’m not sharing a screen shot of my list of drugs!
The claims via Medicare are there too, but not much information. If I look at the record for my last specialist appointment it says:
Consultant Physician (other than in Psychiatry) Review of Referred patient treatment and management plan – Surgery or Hospital
and gives the provider’s name. There is information about me (name, gender, age, date of birth, ID number) and not much else. In fact, it has my name, age, gender, ID number and date of birth in the header of the record and in the detail of the record. We call that data redundancy. I’m looking at my records, surely I only need to be told all that once. Even if a new doctor was looking, I think a doctor is probably smart enough to read it once and “get it”. There may be a reason for this duplication: I’d love to hear what it is! At the very least it would tell a new doctor who to contact if he needed more details, so that is something although there are no contact details for the doctor. I don’t know how many doctors have the same name, but I assume there may be more than one called Mary Jones. I tried Yellow Pages to prove my point, but couldn’t sort or filter by name. The joys of technology.
I haven’t mentioned Medicare. It really is pretty basic. You can lodge a claim on-line but who needs to these days as most doctors and other medical providers (pathology, imaging) lodge it for you at the time of consultation. You can change your bank details, but most of us don’t change bank accounts very often.
So there you have it – a run through of some of the Australian government services you can now manage on-line rather than line up in queues. Certainly preferable to calling them on the phone. One day I waited on hold for forty minutes. Who has forty minutes to wait on hold?
I’m rather liking it over all, just a few minor design flaws and usability issues. Reliability seems to be an issue with the Centrelink site, but it is probably the most functionally rich of them all, therefore also the most complex behind the scenes.
Have you been using the on-line services? Have you enjoyed the experience or found it all a bit challenging?