BATHURST GP Dr Ross Wilson may have serious security concerns about the Federal Government’s My Health Record, but he’s not opting out himself.
My Health Record is an online summary of key health information such as allergies, medicines you are taking, medical conditions you have been diagnosed with, and pathology test results like blood tests.
The national database is accessible by health professionals including GPs and hospital emergency department doctors and nurses.
The scheme has been criticised by some people who claim that the Australian Government has not proven that the information could be stored securely.
More than 6.4 million Australians already have a My Health Records and unless you opt out, one will be created for you after January 31.
Dr Wilson has had many patients ask about whether they should opt out and he asks each one “how interested are you in the privacy of your own information?”.
“If I had complete confidence in the security of people’s information and it was only available to certain health professionals I’d say stay in,” he said.
“I would recommend that unless people are 100 per cent in favour of it then don’t do it.”
Dr Wilson said anyone with “sensitive” health information such as depression or sexually transmitted diseases should consider carefully whether they decide to stay in the system.
While the government said use of My Health Record information by insurers or employers was illegal, he still feared it could be used by them.
I would recommend that unless people are 100 per cent in favour of it then don’t do it.Dr Ross Wilson
“I haven’t opted out, but a couple of people in my family have,” Dr Wilson said.
So far 1.147 million people have opted out of having a My Health Record, a statement by the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) said.
“My Health Record is already helping many Australians to improve the management of their own health and care,” the statement said.
“[It] gives healthcare providers secure digital access to key health information at the point of care, wherever that may be.
“Its benefits include reduced hospital admissions, reduced duplication of tests, better coordination of care for people with chronic and complex conditions, and better informed treatment decisions.”
The ADHA statement said there were strict rules and regulations about who could see and use My Health Record, to protect information from misuse.
“[It] has multi-layered and strong safeguards in place to protect people’s information including encryption, firewalls, secure login, authentication mechanisms and audit logging,” it read.
New laws to protect My Health Record
As a result of the new laws:
- Australians can permanently delete their record at any time in their life, including back-ups
- Access to My Health Records for insurance or employment purposes is now illegal.
- Law enforcement and other government agencies are now required to produce an order from a judicial officer to access information in a My Health Record
- The system cannot be privatised or commercialised.
- Protections for people at risk of family and domestic violence have been strengthened
- Privacy for teenagers 14 years and over will be strengthened.
- The System Operator (the ADHA) cannot delegate functions to an entity other than an employee of the Department of Health or the Chief Executive of Medicare.
- There are harsher penalties and fines for inappropriate or unauthorised use of My Health Records including five years in prison and fines up to $315,000.