#6 My Health Record opt out date announced
16 May, 2018
Every Australian will be offered a My Health Record unless they choose not to have one during the three month opt out period that will run from 16 July to 15 October 2018. More than five million Australians already have the summary of their key health information, which is delivering better health outcomes for patients and their treating doctors and specialists.
The protection of patient information is critical and the My Health Record system has strong safeguards in place to protect the health data. It is also subject to some of the strongest legislation in the world to prevent unauthorised use.
Australians can cancel their My Health Record at any time after the end of the opt out period – or create one, if they opted out.
After the three month opt out phase, one month will be required to reconcile the data and to finalise processing of paper opt out forms received from Australians living in remote and rural locations, and from people who do not have access to a computer.
The new records will be activated when individuals login for the first time or when healthcare providers access records in treating their patients. Two years of Medicare and PBS data will be uploaded, unless an individual chooses not to include this information.
Individuals will also be able to upload personal notes, advanced care documentation, and medication and allergy information. Authorised healthcare providers using approved clinical information software will also upload health information on allergies, medical conditions and treatments, medicine details, and test results.
“Strict privacy control, set by an individual, is a central feature of My Health Record. Each person can control the information in his or her My Health Record, and the healthcare provider organisations that can have access,” Australian Digital Health Agency CEO Tim Kelsey said.
Individuals will be able to ask their healthcare provider not to add specific test reports and other medical information to their My Health Record. Individuals can also restrict access to specific information in their record by applying a Limited Access Code to that that specific document – or by applying a Personal Access Code to the entire record.
Minister for Health Greg Hunt said My Health Record enables important health information including allergies, medical conditions, treatments, medicines, and test reports to be securely shared between clinicians and their patients. It also enables people to take more control of their own health and wellbeing, manage their children’s health, and upload key documents, like advanced care directives.
“My Health Record provides many benefits to patients, including reduced duplication of tests, better coordination of care for people with chronic and complex conditions, and better informed treatment decisions,” Minister Hunt said. “I would encourage each and every Australian to use their My Health Record and to speak with their healthcare providers regarding these benefits.”
A national communications strategy will be implemented to inform all Australians of the benefits of digital health, and to explain the opt out process. During the opt out period individuals who do not want a record will be able to opt out by visiting the My Health Record websiteor by calling 1800 723 471 for phone based assistance.
Forms will be provided on request, and additional support will be provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, people from non-English speaking backgrounds, people with limited digital literacy, and those living in rural and remote regions.
Australia’s 31 Primary Health Networks will also support their local communities with tailored communications on My Health Record, in partnership with consumer and clinical peak bodies and state and territory governments. The benefits will be explained for audiences in both health and non-health settings including GP practices, pharmacies, hospitals, as well as corporate and consumer contexts.
AMA Federal President Dr Michael Gannon has welcomed the announcement. “The current system of medical records means that we may have incomplete information on a patient – especially if the patient has recently seen another specialist or has been discharged from a hospital. The My Health Record will result in doctors having access to better information, in a more timely fashion, via secure means. Less time chasing up paperwork means more time can be spent treating our patients,” Dr Gannon said.
Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association CEO Alison Verhoeven said opt out provides a suitable and appropriate balance between the clinician’s need for information and the patient’s right to privacy.
“While further work is required to fully integrate with hospital clinical information systems, My Health Record now offers a ‘medicines view’ showing patient medications and related information, and an increasing number of clinical documents such as referrals, shared health summaries and pathology and diagnostic imaging reports. This information will empower clinicians to make timely decisions in consultation with their patients,” Ms Verhoeven said.