I’ve opted out of the My Health Record (MHR). And, dare I say it? You should think about it, too.
According to the Australian Government
My Health Record is an online summary of your key health information.
When you have a My Health Record, your health information can be viewed securely online, from anywhere, at any time – even if you move or travel interstate. You can access your health information from any computer or device that’s connected to the internet.
Under the My Health Record Act 2012, general practitioners, hospitals, pharmacists and other health professionals can record, online, even the most sensitive information about their patients’ mental, physical and emotional health. This can include diagnoses, treatment and outcomes.
It is estimated that around 6000 of Australia’s 25 million people have already agreed to this record, most often at the prompting of their general practitioner. Existing records can be hidden, not erased if people so choose.
What’s new? We will all be included in the scheme, unless we opt out by 15 October 2018.
Widely shared electronic records may, in some cases, assist with health care. The downside of such records, however, outweighs the possible gains.
Some reasons why I opted out of the My Health Record
- The program is government owned. Future governments can change the laws regarding the use of the data collected – a chilling prospect.
- The MHR program gathers large amounts of raw data that can be matched with other data sources such as Medicare and Centrelink records to create potential financial and other problems for individuals.
- Hospitals and most clinicians already use an electronic medical records system. Information can obviously be transmitted between them on a needs basis.
- However, errors in diagnosis and treatment can occur and these also will be transmitted through the My Health Record, In other words the MHR introduces yet another mechanism for error.
- All information technology is open to individual and institutional hackers.
- MHR is a summary system, not a full health record. The abbreviated information may be unreliable and of little value.
- Recent experience with the online Census puts in doubt the ability of the Australian government to manage information technology efficiently, effectively or reliably. Remember the incident where a politician revealed information about a woman’s Centrelink information?
- According to the Australian Privacy Foundation, ‘…the gung-ho attitude of technology specialists and the politically driven decision to make the My Health Record opt-out means that patient trust, patient choice and patient care are being put at major risk’.
- General practitioners (or the owners of practices) are paid to upload health data into the program. This be may at the expense of time they have available for consultation. Your information is being sold to the government. This makes me wonder if the program is for patients, the government or health practitioners.
- Individuals are responsible for the data uploaded into their record. They must ensure that their records are accurate and up-to-date, for the rest of their lives.
- Those who do not have access to a computer or the internet will need to go to Centrelink to check what is on their MHR. Those who do not have the necessary skills are immediately disadvantaged.
An alternative to the My Health Record
Ian Hargreaves, a hand surgeon, says in a comment in this weeks MJA Insight,
For the moment, the most secure way of guaranteeing that your anaphylaxis or your diabetes is documented, is to wear a bracelet or pendant with the details on it, which is instantly accessible by every surf lifesaver, paramedic, or doctor who has never seen you before.
There are several companies which offer this service, including the St. John Ambulance Association. Another is MedicAlert.
Opting out takes about five minutes and can be done online using your Medicare Card and a Passport or Drivers Licence. You can find the link here