My Health Record: should you opt out?
TENS of thousands of Australian have scrambled to protect their health privacy and opt out of the government online health record this week.
Technical meltdowns, telephone queues longer than two hours and major privacy concerns have dogged the first few days of the government’s three month My Health Record opt out program.
Some people discovered, to their surprise, they already had a My Health Record that had been created for them without their knowledge and contained sensitive health information.
A leading IT academic discovered her My Health Record contained wrong information about which doctors she visited.
The former head of the government Digital Transformation Agency, Paul Shetler, fuelled growing privacy concerns yesterday by claiming he would probably opt out of the record if he was an Australian citizen.
Mr Shelter, who headed the Federal Government digital agency in 2015 and 2016, said he was concerned the government could access people’s health data through the record for collecting public revenue.
The government had learned none of the lessons of the failed online health record in Britain which had to be cancelled in 2016, he said.
Tim Kelsey, who was in charge of the cancelled UK digital health records scheme Care.data, is now the head of the Australian Digital Health Agency running our My Health Record.
The My Health Record was launched in 2012 as an opt-in system, Australians who wanted a record could register to get one but, six years on, only six million Australians had a record and most doctors did not use it.
The federal government decided the only way to make the record work and engage doctors was to get as many Australians as possible signed up so they switched it to an opt-out scheme.
This means every Australian will have a My Health Record created for them this year unless they take action to opt out by October 15.
The record will reveal sensitive health information, including if they’ve had an abortion, a mental illness, sexually transmitted disease or drug addiction.
Health Minster Greg Hunt said the record would “save lives” reduce medication errors and the duplication of medical tests and make it easier to keep track of your health and he assured people it was safe.
“It is not just bank-level security but the advice from the Digital Health Agency is that it has been defencetested,” Mr Hunt said in Melbourne this week.
The Australian Medical Association and Consumer’s Health forum and other medical groups back the record.
There will be no national television, radio or newspaper advertising campaign informing people about the record.
MY HEALTH: Controversy surrounds the opt-out My Health Record.