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As part of the government’s ‘My Health Record’ scheme, your medical records will be made available to third parties. Despite promises of heavy protection, you can opt out.
Did you know that an online electronic health record exists, which contains detailed, personal information about your medical history?
It’s called “My Health Record” and it contains a summary of your medical details such as conditions, medications, allergies and test reports, and it’s designed to be shared securely among your health practitioners.
This national scheme is currently set up to allow third parties to access your records in 2020 and beyond, for the purposes of research and public health. Commercial organisations are also permitted to apply for access, provided they can prove doing so is in the interest of public health.
You can control the level of data that is accessible by external parties, simply by logging into the system and checking the “withdraw participation button”.
At present, more than five million Aussies have a My Health Record (even if they don’t realise it), but the federal government has recommended that any Australian who does not want this personal online record, should opt out between 16 July and 15 October 2018. Their announcement follows the release of their rules around the secondary use of data, which were shared earlier this month, and raised concerns of patient privacy among the population.
“The protection of patient information is critical and the My Health Record system has strong safeguards in place to protect the health data,” explains the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA). “It is also subject to some of the strongest legislation in the world, to prevent unauthorised use.”
Greg Hunt is the Minister for Health. He believes My Health Records provide many benefits to patients, including better coordination of care for people with chronic and complex conditions, reduced duplication of tests, and better informed treatment decisions. He encourages all Australians to use their My Health Record, and to speak with their healthcare providers regarding these benefits.
Leanne Wells, the Consumers Health Forum chief executive, believes a My Health Record is a “key step in the shift from health consumers as passive patients, to consumers as active partners in their own care.”
The Australian Medical Association President, Dr Michael Gannon, indicated that many patient records are incomplete, particularly in cases where individuals have consulted with multiple clinicians or been discharged from a hospital. He says, “The My Health Record will result in doctors having access to better information, in a more timely fashion, via secure means.”
Leanne Wells is the Consumers Health Forum chief executive. She believes a My Health Record is a “key step in the shift from health consumers as passive patients, to consumers as active partners in their own care.”
Ms Wells said the potential benefits of the secondary uses of My Health Record data were also large for the health system and the Australian public, and that the framework set out a sensible approach to manage privacy protections and controls.
“There are, however, issues and concerns that remain to be addressed, especially enforcing laws protecting security and privacy, and ensuring robust and transparent rules and processes to govern access by law enforcement or other government agencies,” she said.
The ADHA have advised that you can cancel your My Health Record at any time after the opt-out period, and you can create one, if you opt out but then later change your mind. To find out more or to opt out during dedicated the three-month period, go to the My Health Record website or phone 1800 723 471.