Your unanswered questions on My Health
Australians will have more time to opt out of the controversial My Health Record system after an extension was approved.
The system went into meltdown today with Australians trying to opt out before tomorrow night's deadline amid concerns that protections covering privacy and the right to delete records had not yet passed parliament.
But early this afternoon the Senate voted in favour of an amendment, proposed by One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, to extend the deadline for opting out from tomorrow to January 31.
This week news.com.au published a guide to some of the issues around the system but readers had some other unanswered questions.
We went back to the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) to get them answered:
1. What data exactly is recorded?
My Health Record will automatically include information on your name, address, age and Medicare number. Two years of data about organ donation registration, Medicare claims, immunisations and prescription medications will be automatically updated the first time your doctor looks at your record, unless you get in first and ask for it not to be downloaded. Otherwise it's up to your doctor to decide what records to put on your file. You can ask them to upload a Shared Health Summary that contains key information like health history, allergies, medications and family history. You can also ask them not to put certain things on your file like information on sexually transmitted diseases, abortion, mental illness or cosmetic surgery.
2. How can people be sure that their records are updated? Some doctors don't seem to have the capacity to add information to My Health Record?
An ADHA spokesman said 14,372 health care provider organisations are securely connected through software to the My Health Record system, making up more than 86 per cent of GPs.
Anyone who wants to access the My Health Record must have the patient's name, address, date of birth and Medicare details, as well as the right software to use the system.
3. Can data be available to help with medical research without the person having to approve this?
Yes, at the moment people's data can be taken for secondary use purposes, such as research. But there is an option to opt out of this.
4. When is a My Health Record created for children?
After the opt out period, parents or guardians of newborns will be able to opt out of having a My Health Record created for their child as part of their child's Medicare registration.
Medicare enrolment forms provide a tick box enabling new enrolments to elect to opt out when registering for Medicare.
5. Will children be forced to have a My Health profile in order to get a digital immunisation record to show their childcare provider or school?
No, details of immunisations are included on the Australian Immunisation Register and this is separate to My Health Record.
6. If someone has to do a medical exam to get a job, will the work doctor be able to access My Health Record? And then pass on any information to the potential employer?
These actions are specifically prohibited by law and would be a criminal offence.
Under the Healthcare Identifiers Act 2010 (the Act), specifically subsection 14(2), healthcare providers cannot use a healthcare identifier for employment and insurance purposes, and as a consequence cannot access an individual's MHR for such purposes.
Under the Act it is expressly prohibited and using or disclosing a healthcare identifier without authority is an offence and subject to severe penalties, including two years in jail and a fine of $126,000. There is legislation under review that would increase these penalties to five years jail and a fine of $315,000.
For more information on My Health Record, click here.