eHealth News: My COVID Record to launch this year editor Rebecca McBeth

The Ministry of Health is piloting a new consumer application called My COVID Record for people to verify their vaccination status.

General manager national digital services at the Ministry of Health Michael Dreyer says the app is due to be released to the public before the end of the year.

My COVID Record is part of the Covid vaccination programme of work and has links to the Travel Health Pass Programme, as New Zealanders travelling overseas will need to be able to prove their vaccine status via a certified vaccine certificate.

Dreyer says a number of international standards have emerged for travel certificates and New Zealand has chosen to first use the European standard, called the EU Digital COVID Certificate, given that it is already available in a number of countries.

There is already a letter-based system for people to make a Privacy Act request from the Ministry of Health and this adopts the new format as not everyone will want to use the self service option, though this process will be streamlined for users.

“In the same way as we have done for booking vaccines, this will be a primarily digital service,” Dreyer explains.

It is intended in future releases that people will also be able to access their Covid-19 test results and update their personal information via the new application, which is being developed iteratively based on user feedback.

He says the new service is made up of three key components that didn't previously exist. The first is a digital health identity linked to everyone's National Health Index number, that allows people to securely log on.

The Ministry has worked with Microsoft, the Department of Internal Affairs and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner on the digital identity solution. This is based on the DIA’s identity trust framework and will use existing identity records and proof of identity to verify people.

“The challenge is providing something that's reasonably seamless for the end user, but is also secure,” says Dreyer.

The second component is the responsive webapp, called My COVID Record, which displays the records for an individual’s vaccinations.

The third is using these records to create vaccine certificates that are compliant with international standards. These will most likely be in the form of a QR code that can be scanned and verified by foreign jurisdictions.

“We are confident in adopting the European standard to start with. Some regions have chosen to go down different routes in terms of standards, but we are hoping they are interoperable,” he says.

The Ministry also expects there may need to be additional standards catered for and this initial release will ensure the Ministry can take advantage of any changes, explains Dreyer.

“The long-term aim is to make these new services available via other commercially available channels such as patient portals or directly in your pharmacy or GP clinic,” he says.

Work is also underway with a number of border agencies on verifying the vaccine status of people coming into New Zealand, including people returning home and those coming here for the first time.

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