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My Health Record: On or Off the Record?


Do you have a My Health Record? Are you happy to have one created on your behalf or are you choosing to opt out? According to the official Government website, more than 6.3 million Australians already have a My Health Record. After 31 January 2019, a record will be created for every Australian who doesn’t voluntarily opt out. Unless you remove yourself, the federal government will store a digital copy of your medical record and allow numerous individuals to access it. So you should you be on or off the record?

What is My Health Record?

A My Health Record is an online record of your health information that you can view from any device that has an internet connection. If you’re in an emergency room and unable to speak due to an accident, healthcare providers can access information such as medicines you’re taking and medical conditions you’ve been diagnosed with. You can manage your My Health Record and choose your security and privacy settings by logging into your account through MyGov.

Pros and Cons

In an article published in The Daily Telegraph, Dr. Annemarie Christie outlined a number of pros and cons that come with having a My Health Record.

She said the record allowed for more effective co-operation between health professionals and eliminated the need for patients to remember long lists of medications. Allergy records can also help to improve outcomes for patients who switch doctors.

However, she also stated that incomplete or out-of-date patient data could actually be more dangerous than no data. She admitted the system could be “slow and clunky” but said that patients who opt out will need to have a reliable understanding of their own health issues.

A July, 2018 article in The Conversation elaborated on the drawbacks of My Health Record. Its concerns were that My Health Record is a summary, not a complete record, which makes it unreliable. It also goes against “best practice” by not seeking express consent. Perhaps most alarmingly, it creates a security risk. Health data is highly sought-after as a means of identity theft, and recently a number of health data breaches have occurred in Australia and abroad.

In Singapore, hackers breached the government’s health database from late June to early July, 2018, stealing the data. For almost a week they accessed the records of about 1.5 million Singaporeans, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

What if I opt out?

To opt out, you will need to verify your identity.

If you already have a My Health Record automatically created for you after January 2019, you can cancel it at any time.

If you opt out but want a My Health Record in the future, you can re-register for one. For more information visit https://www.myhealthrecord.gov.au/for-you-your-family/opt-out-my-health-record.

You can opt out (or alternatively, make a record early) here: https://www.myhealthrecord.gov.au.

Contact us

Shine Lawyers are experts in the field of medical negligence. If you think you’ve been harmed by inadequate medical advice or treatment you can talk to us about making a claim.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: February 1, 2019.

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