The My Health Record system is the Australian government’s digital health record system. It is intended to be an online summary of an individual’s health information allowing an individual’s doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers to view the individual’s health information. However, you may be forgiven for having no knowledge of this system. The Australian government has not been going out of its way to inform Australians about a very important decision they have to make, that is, whether to opt out of the system.
What is the My Health Record opt-out period
There has been some debate recently about the need for Australian’s to opt-out of a system which will see some very personal information stored digitally and made available to various health care providers and other entities. Contrary to best practice, which normally requires an individual to opt-in, the Australian government will create a My Health Record for you if you do not opt-out of the system before 15 October 2018. The opt-out period started on 16 July 2018.
Opinions vary as to the usefulness of the My Health Record. The majority of the opinion appears to be that Australians should opt-out of the system, at least in its present form. Unsurprisingly, the primary concerns centre on the security of an individual’s personal information, much of which is very sensitive. It is important that each Australian make their own informed decision about whether to opt-out of the system.
The Conversation has published two articles which may help you to make your decision. We suggest that these two articles are a good start in understanding the issues surrounding the system which will help you make a decision:
To be very clear, you do not need to opt-in – our government has you covered there. However, if you do not wish to have a My Health Record created for you, you must opt-out before 15 October 2018. The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has also published some information here, which may be of use.
One of the more concerning aspects of this has been that some individuals have reported attempting to opt-out only to find that a My Health Record has already been created for them without their knowledge. According to the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) almost 6 million Australians currently hold a My Health Record. A My Health Record could have been created as far back as 2012. The ADHA is required to hold My Heath Record information (although it will be largely inaccessible) for 30 years after your death.
The ABC has also published some articles that are worth reading before you make a decision to opt-out:
- My Health Record: confusion as some Australians shocked they already have one
- My Health Record: Former digital transformation head raises concerns about security of online system
Opt-out? The choice is yours
You do not have to be a part of this system. If you find that a record has already been created for you without your knowledge, then you should take steps to have it deleted if you don’t want it. However, even in those circumstances, there may still be information stored about you.
Personally, I will be opting out. I am not convinced at this time that the government has done everything it can to adequately safeguard the access to my personal information. You should make your own decision based upon your own investigation and your own needs. However, I strongly suggest that each individual make an informed decision for themselves and for their dependents. If you do not opt-out before 15 October 2018, you will be stuck with a My Health Record in some form or another.
David Killen is an intellectual property and commercial lawyer with a particular interest in helping start-ups and existing businesses protect and manage their intellectual property assets. Contact David today to discuss your needs.