Roxon defends opt-in system for e-health records

Every Australian has been assigned a 16-digit identification number, but they won't automatically get an e-health record when the system starts in mid-2012.

Instead, they'll have to choose to participate.

Doctors say that's a mistake, saying an opt-out system would be better.

"The opt-in system has resulted in incredibly complex rules for patients to give their doctors access to their personally controlled electronic health record," AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton said in a statement.

"We will have a system that doctors and other health practitioners are keen to embrace but won't be able to because their patients haven't yet given them access to their records."

But Ms Roxon says such concerns aren't justified, and she expects a good take-up eventually.

"I don't think imposing it on someone actually improves the system," the minister told reporters in Canberra.

"You want the first, early