Trial shows ‘opt-out’ model favoured for My Health Record

Thursday, May 4, 2017

‘We are supportive of the “opt out” model for My Health Record, but with some important provisos’, says Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA).

Ms Verhoeven was commenting on today’s release by the Australian Government Department of Health of a government-commissioned evaluation of participation trials for My Health Record, involving ‘opt-in’ as well as ‘opt-out’ regimes.

My Health Record is a way of securely sharing an individual’s health information between registered healthcare providers involved in a person’s care. Currently, both individuals and healthcare providers have to opt in, that is, register to participate.

‘The report released today comes down overwhelmingly in favour of the opt-out method’, Ms Verhoeven said.

‘Under this model, a My Health Record is automatically created for individuals. For individuals, not having to do anything to create the record was seen as a major plus, while for healthcare providers, assisting in creating My Health Records, which would have been needed for some patients under the ‘opt-in’ model, was seen as impractical without additional funding and ultimately would be unsustainable.

‘Once the system and its benefits were explained, individuals had minimal confidentiality or security concerns.

‘And, interestingly, most consumers were strongly of the opinion that healthcare providers should not be able to opt out of the system.

‘We support the opt-out model, while acknowledging that the government has no obligation to take on what has been recommended in the report released today.

‘We are however concerned that the existing infrastructure may not have the appropriate capacity to support the recommended change—anecdotal evidence indicates that the current system is already operating at close to capacity and will need to be significantly upgraded to effectively manage the millions of additional records.

‘It would therefore not be wise to rush into this if we want to get this important change right.

‘Given a national rollout is likely to require support by the PHNs, they must be afforded adequate time to undertake collaborative planning, local mapping of digital capacity and capability and the flexibility to respond to local issues and contexts. The phase-in should be well-planned, with comprehensive training and a very strong communications strategy—both to consumers and healthcare providers.

‘Communications cannot be emphasised strongly enough. The report found that there was very low awareness in the community of the current My Health Record arrangements, and very low awareness among all types of healthcare providers of the online training available for the current My Health Record system.’

 

For more information on the AHHA, visit http://ahha.asn.au.

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association is the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, community and primary healthcare services.

 

Media enquiries: Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive, The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, 0403 282 501