My Health Record remobilises

It has taken well over a year but it appears that the Australian Digital Health Agency's plans to allow mobile apps to access the My Health Record are getting back on track.

The agency closed off new entrants to the mobile gateway in August 2018, at the height of the drama over the first opt-out period. At that time, one of the four apps with portal operator status, Tyde, was forced to re-evaluate its business model when changes were made to legislation to prevent insurance companies from handling My Health Record data.

Tyde was forced to subsequently shut up shop despite having raised $3 million from investors and having the technical capability to not just access the My Health Record through myGov but to draw down data from the record. It never got to actually achieve that feat, although we are aware that other apps also have the capability.

Hopefully, the new structure ADHA puts in place when it reopens the gateway will allow apps to actually consume data rather than just provide a convenient way to view the record on a phone. After all, the information held on the record is meant to belong to the consumer and it should be able to be used by them in the way they see fit. We did ask the agency if they planned to allow consumers to download documents but they were reluctant to answer.

The ability to use data from the My Health Record in addition to data from wearables and devices is important to the success of personal health record apps such as Wanngi, Gevity and the new one on the market, Snug. It was essential to Tyde as well, unfortunately.

It will be interesting to watch the progress of these new PHR apps and their financial viability. We asked readers last week if they'd be willing to pay $10 a month for a mobile PHR, which is the subscription cost for Snug for people who are not members of the health fund St Luke's Health.

Our readers gave that a big negative, with 91 per cent saying no versus just nine per cent who would shell out. Our polls can in no way be considered scientific but that's a strong statement.

One of the other problems facing apps that have been developed for use in association with private health insurers is the change to the My Health Record legislation that was forced on the government during the opt-out uproar last year. The new rules preclude insurers from accessing their members' records or using any of the data.

That's why it came as a bit of a surprise to read about a new venture by nib that was announced today, in which nib has partnered with US insurer Cigna in a $20 million joint venture to use members' data to predict risk.

nib managing director Mark Fitzgibbon is quoted in this story saying he hoped that members would share their My Health Record data with the new venture in time. That would necessitate another look at the privacy rules for My Health Record, although that is not a bad thing as in our opinion, they were rushed through under pressure last year and were not well thought out.

We think consumers should be able to do what they like with their own information, so we chose this for our poll question this week: Should consumers be able to share their My Health Record data with their insurance company if they wish?

Sign up to our weekend edition or Pulse+IT Chat to vote, or leave your thoughts below.

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