Australians have been reminded they have until Thursday (January 31) to opt out of the government’s My Health Record scheme after the deadline was extended over concerns about privacy and security.
Medical records will be stored on a national database under the federal government scheme, to be viewed by patients, GPs, specialists, pharmacists and hospital staff.
If you don’t opt out of the scheme by January 31, an electronic personal record will automatically be created.
But after January 31, anyone will still be able to delete their My Health Record – permanently – at any time.
The federal government has touted the scheme’s potential to improve Australia’s health system by better connecting health data and improving outcomes for Australians through the sharing of documents and data.
Critics of the scheme say no digital storage of data can be 100% secure and medical records may be subject to security vulnerabilities. The Australian Digital Health Agency says the system has the highest level of security and is “built and tested to Australian Government standards to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the health records.”
The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations said last November the My Health Record system brings enormous potential benefit but LGBTIQ community members are sensitive to the possibility of disclosure of personal information, including HIV status, gender identity, sexual orientation, sexual health or history of illicit drug use.
The federal government passed legislation on November 26 addressing earlier concerns such as the access of health data by police, privacy for teenagers 14 years and older, and protections for victims of domestic and family violence.
Last October, Brisbane LGBTIQ health specialist Dr Fiona Bisshop asked the Australian Digital Health Agency a series of questions about her concerns around the My Health Record system, and in her verdict urged LGBTIQ Australians to consider their options.
“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 Bisshop said at the time.
The Australian Digital Health Agency has estimated more than 1 million Australians have chosen to opt out of the system since the opt-out period began in July last year.
For detailed information about My Health Record or to opt out, visit the website here or call the helpline on 1800 723 471.