Every Australian will soon have a My Health Record — an online summary of their health information — unless they opt out before November 15. Last month, Brisbane LGBTIQ health specialist and QNews Magazine contributor Dr Fiona Bisshop put a series of questions to the Australian Digital Health Agency regarding issues that have arisen around the My Health Record system, which is designed to allow Australians to keep track of their important medical information all in one place. Now Dr Bisshop is asking the ADHA one more question of critical importance to younger Australians, and giving her verdict on My Health Record.
Dr Bisshop: If someone is under 18, can they prevent their parents having access to their MHR? This is very important for young LGBT people who may not be out and are having STI testing or getting contraception.
My Health Record: When a child turns 14, they will be able to choose whether to manage their own My Health Record, or allow their authorised representative to continue to manage their record.
They can make this choice by logging into their My Health Record (via their myGov account). When they login, they will be prompted to choose whether they want to take control of their record.
A child may choose not to take control of their record until they turn 18 years of age.
On a person’s 18th birthday, their authorised representative(s) will automatically lose access to that My Health Record. If a person hasn’t already taken control of their record, a letter is sent when the person is 17 years and 9 months old, to notify them of this change.
Once a child takes control of their My Health Record, or turns 18 (whichever occurs first), their authorised representative will no longer have access to their record. The child can then manage what information is included in their record, and who has access to it.
If an individual still wants someone such as a parent or guardian to manage or view their record, they will need to take steps to give this person access as a nominated representative.
For further information about how minors can take control of their record, please visit the My Health Record website here.
Comment from Dr Bisshop on the My Health Record system
There is no doubt that the concept of a central health record which can be accessed by your treating health professionals, and where they can instantly see your health information, can be of great value in managing your health, especially if you have complex health needs, if you are travelling or if you need emergency access to your records.
However, despite the reassurances of the Australian Digital Health Agency, I still hold concerns regarding the privacy and security of the online record as it currently stands.
The issue for those under 18 is that they may not be aware that the record even exists and that their parents can access it, and they do not appear to have an option to “opt out” in the same way that adults do.
In fact, the creator of the record believes it is now not fit for purpose.
The My Health Record is not a complete record, it is just a summary, and it requires quite a deal of effort on the part of the patient and the doctor to “curate” it, and keep it accurate and up-to-date.
Think of it as a “lite” version of your health record. It may have been a state of the art platform in 2007 when it was conceived, but the technology is now quite out of date.
Another concern is that any government in the future can change the laws regarding use of the MHR data.
Currently your medical record is stored by your doctor, a person you have a therapeutic relationship with, who you should be able to trust. Can this trust be extended to a government agency?
The opt-out period has been extended until mid November, and I suggest you consider whether you want your personal and private details on this platform, and make a decision about your health data and where you would like to stored.
Dr Fiona Bisshop specialises in LGBTIQ health and is available by appointment at Holdsworth House Medical Brisbane. Call (07) 3894 0794 or visit the Holdsworth House website. Read more by Dr Bisshop on her website here or contact her on Twitter.