My Health Record is proving to be a controversial addition to the health system. With the opt-out deadline now extended to January 31, parliament is still haggling over the final details of the roll out. Concerns remain over privacy and provisions for children aged 14–17.
To add further intrigue, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, the director of privacy at the company behind the My Health Record has quit amid claims that Minister for Health Greg Hunt is not taking privacy concerns seriously.
Nerida Croker, pharmacy engagement officer with the Central and Eastern Sydney PHN, said: “From the enquiry, the Digital Health Agency are listening to the concerns and are considering the recommendations which have been made. In particular, some of those issues were around the 14 to 17-year-old age group which are considered a vulnerable group. Other recommendations, such as increasing penalties for misuse have been acted on by the Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt.”
In the midst of all this, 6 million Australians voluntarily opted in and, for some, life has become more manageable.
Carers Australia chief executive Ara Cresswell told Aged Care Insite that they had some initial concerns, like many, surrounding privacy of patients.
“We did become concerned when serious privacy concerns began to emerge in July. We had already been assured that patients’ information could not be shared with organisations such as insurance agencies or employers,” Cresswell said. “What we were not aware of was that the 2012 legislation allowed for information to be passed over to law enforcement agencies and other government services, including for the protection of public revenue which could mean that information unrelated to a person’s health could be used for the purposes of questioning their social security eligibility, evaluating their tax status or, in the case of criminal investigations, handed over to police. Since then legislation has been introduced to Parliament which we understand will address these concerns.”
However, she sees the positives as a great way of alleviating some stressors that face carers day in, day out.
“Carers Australia has been a strong advocate of My Health Record on the grounds that it can bring strong benefits to the health outcomes of those they care for and relieve both patients and their carers of the stress of trying to remember the timing and outcomes of tests, medication and other important information which needs to be passed on to medical professionals.
“Remembering these things can be especially stressful in times of emergency. My Health Record also mitigates one of the chief irritations of carers and those they care for – having to recount medical history over and over again,” she said.
Aged Care Insite spoke with Croker, prior to the most recent slew of My Health Record announcements, to unpack some of the key issues and potential benefits with the system.Do you have an idea for a story?
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