My Health Record – Opt in or Opt out?
What is My Health Record?
My Health Record is Australia’s national electronic health record system. It is an online repository for documents and data containing information about an individual’s health and healthcare.
The information in a My Health Record can come from an individual patient, their healthcare providers, or Medicare. The individual controls their own My Health Record, deciding whether to make their information available to healthcare organisations.
How is My Health Record changing in 2018?
My health record has been around for a number of years and many patients have already opted to use it. It has previously always been an opt-in service, meaning you needed to specifically request and consent to a health record be created for you.
As of this week, due to very low uptake in the past, the federal government has decided to automatically create a record for everyone with a Medicare card. You are able to opt out in the next 3 months if you do not wish to have such a record created. If you do not opt out by October 2018 a health record will automatically be created for you.
A health record that is active is considered to be consent for information to be uploaded by any of your treating Practitioners (hospital , GP or specialist) , Medicare and pathology and radiology providers.
If a record is created you can in the future withdraw. Although the record will be inactivated it will never actually be deleted and would remain on the database..
You do have full access to your record and have the right to hide content or password protect content.You can log in at any time to block/hide or control any new content added.
What are the concerns?
One concern is that the health record that is automatically set up is by default set at very low privacy settings. Everyone with a record then must log in regularly to maintain and control their privacy settings. Most will not bother to do this.
The primary concern about an online health record is trust and the risk of data breaches or misuse of data. Hackers are drawn to such records and attempts to breach the my-health record system is almost certain. The security systems are very strong, claimed to be of military grade, however history shows that no security system can be perfect. Having said this your Medicare records, tax records, pathology and radiology results and even some personal medical records, are already held in separate on-line databases and have the same risk of being compromised.
There is no question that having all one's health data in one place and digitally accessible from anywhere has many benefits. Doctors having access to your blood tests results, past medical history, medications etc will significantly improve your care, prevent duplication of tests and allow effective communication with all your practitioners.
At Waverley GP we support the use of online patient centred medical records, but are concerned about privacy and the risks of automatic creation of the record with low level privacy settings without direct consent from patients.
We recommend the following patients should consider having a health record.
If you have complex or multiple medical problems.
If you have multiple practitioners looking after you.
If you frequently attend hospital.
If you have multiple blood or radiology tests or would like to access and see your results.
If you have an advanced care directive.
If you travel around Australia a lot.
We suggest that patients with few medical problems who infrequently seek medical care may consider opting out. It will always possible to opt in at any time in the future.
If you wish to opt out, you can call 1800 723 471 or use the online portal at www.myhealthrecord.gov.au
If you chose to opt in and allow a record to be created we would suggest that you should login and review your records and privacy settings regularly.