My Health Record changes positive step for consumers
The Consumers Health Forum welcomes the Government’s announcement that it will amend the My Health Record Act to strengthen safeguards to protect security and certainty of personal medical records.
“The announcement last night by Health Minister Greg Hunt of legislative changes states that no MHR record can be released to police or government agencies, for any purpose, without a court order," the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said.
“The Minister has also said that the legislation would be amended to ensure that if any Australian wished to cancel their record, they could do so permanently, with their record deleted from the system.
“The legislative tightening on access to MHR files would "remove any ambiguity on this matter", Mr Hunt says.
"Although the Digital Health Agency’s policy is clear and categorical that no documents have been released in more than six years and no documents will be released without a court order, enshrining this provision in legislation adds clarity and certainty to MHR safeguards.
“MHR will only succeed in reaching critical mass in terms of its reach and effectiveness if Australians --- both consumers and clinicians --- can trust that patient information is secure and is seen only by those authorised to see it.
“These changes are important. The MHR system is in place and the more it is used the more it should evolve and improve over time based on consumer and clinician experience with it.
“The power of MHR to reduce safety risks and clinical harms that arise from doctors not having the right information at their fingertips is a major advance and must be kept in mind in balancing the actual benefits versus the possible risk of a potential privacy breach.
“We welcome the Government’s commitment to an extended education campaign and the prospect of more time for consumers to consider whether to opt out, a move which the minister has flagged he will be discussing with other Health Ministers today.
“The Government is proposing more support for doctors to participate in MHR as there is a need for much more active involvement by the medical profession if they and their patients are to gain full benefit.
“Likewise, the first fortnight of the opt-out period has indicated there needs to be a more comprehensive and active information and education effort for consumers.
“We have previously proposed that the Government distribute explanatory letters to all households providing factual details about MHR.
“The latest changes make such a public information initiative even more worthwhile.
“The Consumers Health Forum next week launches a series of webinars on MHR for the benefit of health consumers because we believe a well-informed public is a key to the success of MHR,” Ms Wells said.