August 18, 2018

Government bows to pressure on My Health Record, promises strengthened privacy

03 August 2018, 04:24 | Silvia Roy

My Health Record ADHA

My Health Record  ADHA

"We urge government consultation with women and domestic violence organisations to address safety and risk for victims of domestic violence from My Health records", the Women's Legal Service of Queensland said on Facebook.

Currently, if an individual has not opted-out by the end of the window on October 15, a record will be created which can't be deleted, only cancelled.

'The AMA has always been protective and vigilant about the privacy of the doctor-patient relationship, and this should not be affected by the My Health Record, ' Dr Bartone said in a statement last week.

The Federal Government has announced changes to the My Health Record legislation to ensure police and government agencies can't access patient information without a court order.

Fairfax reported that this could also mean Australians are given an extra month in which they can opt out of the scheme; elsewhere, the ABC suggested the opt-out period could become "indefinite".

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Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the changes following a consultation with the Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

"Don't be fooled by the Minister's backdown on a couple of aspects of the #MyHealthRecord privacy concerns, there are bigger problems remaining".

The Australian Digital Health Agency, the system operator of My Health Record, had previously said its policy was not to release patient records to police and government without a court order.

The key sticking point was a part of the legislation that only required a "reasonable belief" by authorities that access to someone's health data was necessary to prevent, detect, investigate or prosecute a criminal offence, and that it did not specifically state that a court order was necessary.

The policy changes were welcomed by the AMA with Dr Tony Bartone tweeting, "Government will strengthen privacy provisions under the #MyHealthRecord Act, removing any doubt".

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"This system is still in evolution, but is better than what we now have in terms of collating and coordinating a summary of all the medical data in various parts of the system", he told the ABC.

CNET reached out for additional comment from the Australian Digital Health Agency, but did not immediately receive a response.

"Changes to the legislation that remove any questions about who may be able to access the records ensure that the records will be able to be used in line with the RACGP's position statement on My Health Records. Now there are even more reasons to embrace the system".

Acting Australian Information Commissioner and acting Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk said she welcomed the government's announcement.

"In the 2016-17 financial year, there were six data breach notifications within My Health Record, and three notifications in the previous financial year", the agency admitted.

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