My Health Record enshrines choice
A change in the law enabling people to delete permanently their My Health Record, should strengthen public trust in the system, the Consumers Health Forum says.
“This change will reassure those people who were concerned that their decision to opt out of MHR would not prevent their record being accessed by officials at some later time,” the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said.
“The Australian Digital Health Agency says that from today (24 January), a function has been activated in the My Health Record system that allows a person to permanently delete their record at any time, including any backups and that all records previously cancelled will also be permanently deleted from the system.
“This step comes as Australians have just one more week to decide whether or not to opt out of MHR, one of the most significant developments in our health system for many years.
“MHR will enable all Australians to store and share their own medical information so that it can be promptly accessed by doctors and other health providers, with access and security controls the consumer can set. My Health Record is a step towards more people being actively involved in their care.
“The deadline for people to opt out of MHR is January 31. People who do nothing will be automatically enrolled onto MHR. Those who want no part of MHR can cancel now or at any time in the future. You can also set controls on who may see your health records. For more details go to My Health Record website or help line, 1800 723 471.
“The Consumers Health Forum has for some years strongly supported a secure national health records system because of the potentially great benefits it offers consumers and health providers,” Ms Wells, said.
“About one million people have decided to opt out of MHR as they are entitled to.
“We accept there have been serious questions raised about privacy and security issues.
“However, we believe the changes introduced by the Government should resolve these concerns. The doubts and criticisms about security must be weighed against the long-term benefits of information technology that will bring to health care the advances in services and access already taken for granted in other parts of modern life.
“The MHR will improve efficiency and precision in medicine, providing scope for consumers to have a better-informed role in their own health care and in particular facilitating the care of those with chronic and complex conditions.
“More significant improvements will be needed to the MHR system as we learn from experience but February 1 marks a pivotal day in Australian health care,” Ms Wells said.
The important legislative changes to privacy and security safeguards introduced by the Federal Government late last year include:
- Cancelled records will be fully deleted from the system and all backups. This feature has not yet been implemented, however the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) has assured us that it will be by January 31.
- Better privacy protections for 14 to 17-year-olds so that access to records by parents will automatically be withheld and the record-holder would have to consent to their access being allowed. The ADHA has said this provision will be introduced shortly.
- MHR data can’t be used for insurance or employment purposes.
- Improved protections for those at risk of domestic violence.
- Making it clear that the only government agencies that can access the MHR system are the ADHA, the Department of Health and the Chief Executive of Medicare.
- Ensuring the system cannot be privatised.
- Enshrining in legislation the principles and governance structure in the Framework to guide the secondary uses of My Health data.
- Increasing the penalties incurred for inappropriate or unauthorised use.
CHF has compiled a ‘Hub’ for the My Health Record webinar series with information on how it all works, what you might want to consider when making your decision, and where you can find more resources to help you think it through.
State and territory health departments also have further location specific information available on My Health Record. While the number of hospital systems and health providers connected to the system is rapidly increasing, not all of those who are connected are able to access the full range of information held in a person’s record yet.