Due to go live on November 15, the Senate voted Wednesday to extend the My Health Record opt out period to 31 January 2019. The main reasons are ongoing privacy questions and uncertainty related to the security and deletion procedures for digital records that will be created and stored online.
Recent improvements to the system to protect privacy will require law enforcement agencies to obtain court permission to read health records and will provide a new records deletion procedure that permanently erases a person’s digital health record upon the patient’s instruction rather than archiving it beyond the person’s death. The benefits are enormous if Australia gets this system working as medical researchers can learn from the ‘big data’ pool of anonymous patient records, but privacy concerns and questions about trust of the system persist.
Singapore’s health records system was hacked in late July. Will Australians opt out over the Christmas summer break or begin the new year with a new digital health folder? About a quarter of Australians already have a digital record.
This story is featured in the 15 November 2018 edition of The Warren Centre’s Prototype newsletter. Sign up for the Prototype here.