IT’S one of the great paradoxes of politics that so much can happen in a week in politics and yet so little can happen in a year – or, in this case, six months.
That’s how long it is since Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt personally intervened in the My Health Record controversy in an attempt to allay fears that it was a Big Brother scheme designed only to feed the government more information about our private lives.
He promised to redraft the law so My Health information would be reserved solely for health practitioners and patients and not available to other government departments, police or the private sector unless a judge issues a warrant.
Mr Hunt also moved to clarify and strengthen patients’ existing right to determine what is entered into the database and to delete historical information if they choose.
Also, the deadline to opt-out of My Health Record was extended by six months following a mad rush of people logging on to stop their personal information being included on the database.
Fast forward six months, with the new opt-out deadline now upon us, and it seems little has changed.
Still people are concerned about the Big Brother overtones of the scheme and still even health professionals cannot agree whether My Health Record is a good or bad thing.
In the end, as was the case six months ago, each of us must decide how comfortable we are with the reality of our new world of digital information and adjust our behaviour accordingly.
And still, as was the case six months ago, it will be a different experience for each person.
The benefits of having your health records online must be obvious to the millions of Australians who have registered since My Health was launched on a voluntary basis in 2012.
If you are admitted to emergency or fall sick while travelling or if you see multiple GPs, My Health lets your doctor see your full records including pre-existing conditions, medications, medical imaging and allergies.
But medical records are, by their nature, intensely private. Few of us would like to think our most personal issues might find their way on to a public website, whether by accident or nefarious design.
Ultimately, we must each decide for ourselves – just as we had to six months ago.