Health Minister backs down on My Health Record

Ben Davidson
August 3, 2018

Hunt met with senior officials from the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and College of Global Positioning System on Tuesday night, two key groups who'd raised concerns about protecting patient information, and announced the changes following the meeting.

The My Health Record Act will be brought into line with the existing Australian Digital Health Agency policy.

"My Health Record will provide health practitioners with significantly enhanced access to the information they need to treat their patients safely and effectively".

The government is also seeking to amend the legislation to allow people to permanently cancel their record and delete it from the My Health Record database, Hunt said.

"The amendment will ensure no record can be released to police or government agencies, for any objective, without a court order", Hunt said in a statement.

"No documents have been released in more than six years and no documents will be released without a court order".

Australians were required to be part of the new system unless they opted out before 15 October. "This will be enshrined in legislation".

And - Vulture South is certain you'll be thrilled to hear this - the release also trumpets that the government will work with medical leaders on some kind of spin strategy, or as the release puts it, "additional communications to the public about the benefits and objective of the My Health Record".

"Mr Hunt's response also does nothing to address new concerns the My Health Record may risk the safety of women fleeing abusive partners", Labor's health spokeswoman Catherine King said on Wednesday.

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"We urge government consultation with women and domestic violence organisations to address safety and risk for victims of domestic violence from My Health records", the Women's Legal Service of Queensland said on Facebook.

Mr Hunt pledged to update provisions around cancelling a My Health Record so if a person chooses to cancel their summary it will be permanently deleted from the system, rather than being stored.

Trent Yarwood, an infectious diseases specialist and member of tech advocacy group FutureWise, told The Register there's no detail beyond "there will be changes".

"My Health Record always promised compelling health benefits, especially for people living in rural and remote areas".

"Don't be fooled by the Minister's backdown on a couple of aspects of the #MyHealthRecord privacy concerns, there are bigger problems remaining".

RACGP president Dr Bastian Seidel welcomed the move, calling it "a very positive step towards the meaningful use of My Health Record".

"I also welcome the additional communications to the public to assist individuals make an informed decision as to whether or not to have a My Health Record".

Yarwood also highlighted that even with law enforcement access dealt with, there will still be almost a million health sector workers able to access MyHealth Record.

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