Crashes, cave-ins and knee-jerk reactions

This week in the eternal drama that is the My Health Record we were served up a veritable smorgasbord of beat-ups, cave-ins and knee-jerk reactions about the system that would have tested Mr Creosote's enviable staying powers.

There was a story about the whole system crashing under the weight of people rushing to opt out – we have it on good authority that it did no such thing – that was then picked up by other outlets and beaten up within an inch of its life.

This was quickly followed by an announcement that Health Minister Greg Hunt had caved into pressure from Labor and accepted all of its late amendments to the My Health Record Act, threatening increased penalties in the time-honoured method that politicians use to look like they're doing something when in fact they are not.

On the surface, Mr Hunt agreeing to Labor's amendments might seem to be good politics and a way to take the heat out of the issue, but some of the decisions will actually have far-reaching ramifications that seem not have been thought through.

No one is going to quibble with the move to ensure children are better protected from a parent or carer with a restricted access order against them to safeguard against domestic violence, and the prohibition on employers accessing information seems sound, although probably unnecessary as there are existing laws around this. The system has been going for six years, remember, and these issues have been gone over time and again.

However, the move to prohibit private health insurers from receiving any health information, even de-identified data or data released with the patient's consent, is actually far more complex than it seems on the surface. The move is most likely aimed at ensuring insurers can't hike individual premiums or snoop on a customer's behaviour, but it will also affect the actual use of the record in the self-management programs that insurers run to help customers with chronic conditions and keep them out of hospital. We'll have more on that next week.

We'll also have a follow-up to another controversy concerning certain medical colleges promoting technologies and vendors over those already serving the market.

While these yarns bubbled away, by far the most popular story of ours this week was our chat with Telstra Health MD Mary Foley. Telstra Health has promised a lot since it first started making waves in 2014 and while it has had a few successes – including winning the bid to implement an EMR at the new Northern Beaches Hospital – it has also received a lot of intense scrutiny and some shockingly bad press, particularly over the tortured history of the National Cancer Screening Register.

Like the My Health Record, Telstra Health is a story that keeps on giving. Have a read and let us know what you think.

That brings us to our poll question for the week: Are you impressed with Telstra's foray into the health sector?

Sign up to our weekend edition to vote or leave your thoughts below.

Last week, we asked if you thought the public health IT procurement process was transparent enough. Not by a long shot: 86.5 per cent said no, while 13.5 per cent said yes.

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