What is My Health Record?

My Health Record is a national electronic health record system that can give you and your health providers better access to your health information. Until 2018, it has been an opt-in system where only people who signed up for it had a record created for them.

Now, My Health Record is changing to 'opt-out', meaning that unless you tell the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) that you don't want a record created for you by 31 January 2019, then a record will be created for you. You can cancel that record at any time.

We see My Health Record as a key step in the shift from health consumers as passive patients, to consumers as active partners in our own care. We also think the every Australian should think about what the benefits and risks of My Health Record mean for you.

During our first webinar on Privacy and Security of My Health Record, the ADHA's General Manager of Strategy gave a good answer on what information can be included in a My Health Record. You can watch her 2 minute answer here. Her answer included;

  • Event summaries from when you've been to visit a clinician or a hospital
  • A shared health summary, written by you and your GP
  • MBS and PBS information
  • Advance Care Directive
  • Pathology and diagnostic imaging reports
  • Organ donation status
  • Allergies

You can find more information on what is included on the official My Health Record website, www.myhealthrecord.gov.au/for-you-your-family/whats-in-my-health-record.

What decision do I need to make?

If you don't already have a record, by 31 January 2019 you can decide to;

  • Do nothing and let a record be created for you
  • Opt-out of having a record created by completing an online form or calling the ADHA on 1800 723 471
  • Register now for a record and start using it.

How does My Health Record work?

My Health Record is a centralised database of health information that can be accessed by you, a representative you nominate, or health professionals directly invovled in your care.

If you have a record, you can access it through MyGov or by calling the My Health Record helpline. You can also set a number of consumer controls to change which items are accessible, whether health providers will need to ask you for a PIN to see your whole record or an item on it and more. If you tell a health provider to not upload something to your record, they have to do as you ask. See here for more information on what My Health Record is and the controls you can set: www.myhealthrecord.gov.au/for-you-your-family/what-is-my-health-record

Health providers whose workplaces have connected to My Health Record access it mostly through the clinical software they already use. A wide range of health providers are able to access your record when providing you care, however there are strict penalties in place if they access it at other times. Not all staff at a health provider can see your information either; if a GP clinic is set up correctly, then a GP's receptionist for example should only be able to see your basic details but not the rest of your health information. See here for more information: www.myhealthrecord.gov.au/for-healthcare-professionals/howtos/roles-and-responsibilities

How could My Health Record help me manage my health?

The most important benefit of My Health Record is the access it will give you to your health information. CHF sees it as a key step in the shift from health consumers as passive patients, to consumers as active partners in our own care. Without access to health information, it is more difficult for consumers to be part of the conversation about their care.

Having access to up to date medical information that keeps track of people’s medication and disease status is of great potential value to the millions of Australians with chronic and complex conditions and to their doctors who need to keep abreast of their patients’ care.

We also expect to see benefits like:

  • not having to remember and communicate all the details of past health issues,
  • better communication of allergies and Advance Care Plans,
  • more accessible information in an emergency,
  • fewer hospital admissions,
  • fewer adverse drug events from medication errors,
  • reduced duplication of tests, and
  • better coordination of care for people with chronic and complex conditions.

If you live with any chronic or complex conditions, you might be able to find information on how to best use My Health Record by talking to the consumer and community organisations who advocate for people with your issue. You can find many such organisations on our Find Consumer and Community Organisations page.

Where does My Health Record fit in the bigger picture?

My Health Record is just one piece of the digital health landscape in Australia. To properly understand My Health Record, it is important to know where it fits in the bigger picture.

Many people are surprised to learn just how disconnected the different parts of the health system are. Faxes, boxes of paper records, and phone calls chasing up information are the status quo. Many of us will also already have electronic health records of some kind, held by our GP, a hospital network or a pharmacy - but these records are rarely connected in any way, and you don't have access to them to see what is recorded.

See our Overview of Digital Health webinar for more information on how digital health works in Australia. This article in The Conversation by two academics from Monash University also provides a good explanation of the current state of health information in Australia.

Where can I find more information?

From others

Health Consumers Queensland have put together a great resource that covers a lot of the key information you should consider: http://www.hcq.org.au/our-work/my-health-record/

The My Health Record website is a good resource, and the help line is available 24/7 on 1800 723 471. The help line can answer many general questions, as well as assist with opting out or making changes to your record if you already have one.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) also have a number of good resources on My Health Record, particularly on privacy and how to make a complaint: https://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy-law/other-legislation/my-health-records

From CHF       

You can find all publications and media releases by CHF on digital health here: https://chf.org.au/digital-health-media-and-publications

Of particular interest might be something we wrote for Croakey in June - An important overview of the pros, cons and questions about My Health Record.