With the opt-out date for the My Health Record System looming, Andersons Solicitors discusses the pros and cons of the controversial record to help you make an informed decision of whether to opt in or out?
Pros of My Health Record:
- Quick access during emergencies: Healthcare providers connected to the My Health Record System can view your important health information in emergencies, including allergies, medications and immunisations.
- Available in one place: My Health Record conveniently stores all of your health information in one place. This information can then be easily accessed by doctors, specialists or hospitals.
- Coordinating care: Having all your health information in one place will be particularly useful for those with chronic and complex health conditions and the coordination of care between doctors, hospitals and specialists.
- Personally controlled: You can determine the information that’s included in your My Health Record, and which healthcare providers are able to view that information. You can add personal notes, set access controls and review your own health information. You can also set your record to provide notifications each time a healthcare provider accesses your records.
- The elderly: Quick access during emergencies and having all medical information, including details of medication and test dates in one place has been considered a significant benefit for the elderly.
- Digitally accessed: Your health information can be accessed at any time via phone or computer. This will be particularly useful when travelling interstate or overseas.
- Full Disclosure: My Health Record offers efficient access to your medical records, thereby removing the need for you to request these records from your healthcare provider.
Cons of My Health Record:
- Data breaches: While My Health Record is said to have military-grade security, the risk of data breaches and hacks remain.
- Public health and research purposes: It is expected that My Health Record data will be used for public health and research purposes from 2020. Most access will be to de-identified data, however. Where identified data is needed, access will not be granted without the individual’s consent.
- Access to law enforcement agencies: As the law currently stands your health information can be disclosed for law enforcement purposes. However, Government legislation that would ensure police may only access your health information with a court order is set to be debated in Parliament in the coming months.
- Failure to opt-out: Under the current legislation, individuals who opt-out of the My Health Record System are permitted to opt back into the system at any time. Individuals who fail to opt-out before the November 15 deadline will technically be permitted to opt-out of the system, though their record will be locked and stored until 30 years after their death.
- Lack of information: While a My Health Record can be personally controlled by the individual to whom it belongs, some have argued that such personal control requires sufficient health and digital literacy not held by a large portion of the Australian public. Particular concern has been raised for vulnerable or hard to reach communities.
- Vulnerable to unauthorised access: Serious concerns have been raised regarding unauthorised access by individuals who may have parental responsibility for a child and may have been perpetrators of family violence. Concern exists that an individual may use this right of access to identify the residential address of their child and/or former partner.
- Restrictions to confidentially accessing healthcare: This is a particular concern for young people aged 14-17 who may wish to seek confidential medical advice, including mental or sexual healthcare, without their parents (who can remain authorised representatives for children until they are 18) being made aware.
Click the link for more information about who will have access to your My Health Record.
The final date for Australians to opt out of the My Health Record System is 31 January 2019.