Committee recommends extension of My Health Record opt-out for 12 months

The Senate community affairs committee looking into the My Health Record system has recommended the opt-out period be extended for a further 12 months, along with a host of further regulations to increase privacy.

The Coalition Senators on the committee issued a minority dissenting report, saying they did not support the year-long extension and calling it “excessive and unnecessary”. They noted that the decision on opt-out was supported unanimously in 2015.

Among 14 recommendations were that access codes be applied by default rather than open by default. The Coalition Senators also dissented from this view, saying it represented a serious implementation challenge for many Australians.

“The evidence heard by the committee during the public hearings indicated that to realise the full benefits of the My Health Record system, an individual's multiple healthcare providers need to have timely and comprehensive access to their patients' medical history in which to better make a diagnoses and provide treatments,” they said.

“Asking for a PIN, and requiring consumers to remember their PIN, will interrupt the clinical workflow and impede use of the record. Clinicians treating people who are unable to recall their PINs will not be able to view their patient's record. Both the clinician's and the consumer's time will be wasted while the consumer attempts to remember or locate their PIN.”

The committee recommended that the legislation governing the system be amended to explicitly state that an individual's My Health Record cannot be accessed for employment or insurance purposes. It also recommended that changes be made to the legislation to protect the privacy of children aged 14 to 17 years.

It recommends that the current restrictions on commercial entity access to secondary data be strengthened further, as well as adding more certainty to the ability to delete a record by ensuring there are no cached or back-up versions kept.

The committee wants the Australian Digital Health Agency to do a better job on its media strategy and to give additional support to vulnerable groups about their decision to opt in or opt out.

Labor Senators also asked for another review by the Privacy Commissioner and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

The report can be downloaded here.

Posted in Australian eHealth

Tags: My Health Record

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