My Health Record: public trust critical

Friday, July 27, 2018

Public trust in the My Health Record may be lost without swift action from the Government, the Department of Health and the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) to fix significant legal and privacy issues, according to the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association.

The issues centre on possible access by enforcement bodies to information stored in My Health Record.

A Parliamentary Library briefing released last week warned that the law governing My Health Record did not require a warrant or court order in order for the operator of the system (the ADHA) to provide medical records to police or other enforcement agencies.

‘While it is reassuring that Health Minister Greg Hunt and the ADHA have reiterated their internal policy position that no data will be released without a court order, this safeguard must be protected by legislation’, says AHHA Acting Chief Executive, Dr Linc Thurecht.

‘We do not doubt the current intention, nor its sincerity—but governments change, ministers change, and the head of the ADHA may change. ADHA policy can be changed at the stroke of an administrative pen, whereas legislation cannot.’

‘A legislative provision requiring a court order is the only sensible way to ensure and future-proof a robust eHealth system in which Australians can have trust and confidence.’

‘We must remember that we are dealing with the most personal and sensitive information that any of us is likely to have’, Dr Thurecht said.

‘It is therefore not unreasonable that this kind of information, stored in the centralised My Health Record database, is used only for health purposes, with any other use protected by law and the judiciary rather than a public service agency’s operating policy.’

‘Loss of trust in the My Health Record would be a setback to the good work done to date to develop and implement an electronic health record.

‘Without urgent action, this could potentially result in a lost opportunity to modernise the health system to provide better quality affordable healthcare for all Australians.’

‘There has been widespread support among health peak bodies, including AHHA, for the opt-out process for the My Health Record.

‘We maintain this support while encouraging the Government and the ADHA to respond to community concerns in order to strengthen public trust in My Health Record.

‘Decisive steps are needed now to change My Health Record legislation to ensure mandatory judicial oversight of any release of identifiable private health information for non-healthcare purposes.’

 

More information about the AHHA is available at ahha.asn.au

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) is the national peak body for public and not for profit hospitals and healthcare providers in Australia

Media enquiries:  Dr Linc Thurecht

Acting Chief Executive, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association

0401 393 729