In the past few weeks you may have seen headlines about the MyGov Health portal, but what does it mean for you? If you think you won’t be affected, this is something that does apply to every Australian.
Soon everyone will have a My Health Record, an online summary of their health information unless they opt out over the next three months. The deadline is October 15 to tell the Government if you don’t want one. Otherwise, a record will automatically be created.
The MyGov Health portal was created to give patients and doctors access to medical information, for example, test results, referral letters and organ donation information. However, there are concerns about the safety of some of the more personal, sensitive data.
How The Record Works
You can choose to opt out and have no My Health Record. If you choose to keep the record doctors can upload health information into it unless you ask them not to. This is not the total picture of your health, it will only contain what you and your doctors choose to upload, and will depend on the quality of those records.
According to the ABC, when you first access the system, you’ll be asked to decide whether you want two years of Medicare Benefits Schedule, Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, Australian Immunisation Register, and Australian Organ Donor Register data to be uploaded. If your doctor accesses your record first before you make the selection yourself, this data will be uploaded automatically — unless you’ve opted to have no record at all. You can delete or restrict access to those documents later on.
Will any private health insurance companies have access?
Insurers shouldn’t be able to access your record. It is only meant for people who work for a registered healthcare provider and who are authorised to provide you with care.
There are plans to use aggregated, anonymous My Health Record data for research and other purposes or “secondary use” reasons.
According to the ABC, “My Health Record information can be used for research and public health purposes in either a de-identified form, or in an identified form if the use is expressly consented to by the consumer,” a Department of Health spokesperson said.
Currently, users of the platform can tick a box on the web portal to opt out of secondary use.
Secondary uses must be of public benefit and cannot be “solely” commercial, and insurance agencies will not be allowed to participate.
However, “the impact of this exclusion” will be considered when the Department of Health’s framework governing secondary use of My Health Record data is reviewed, according to the framework document.
How can I opt out?
There are three key ways:
- By visiting www.myhealthrecord.gov.au and opting out using the online portal.
- Over the phone by calling 1800 723 471.
- Or on paper by completing a form and returning it by mail. Forms will be available in 2,385 rural and remote Australia Post outlets, through 146 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and in 136 prisons.
If you have any questions about your personal data in this instance or any other concerns we are always happy to help you out. Just get in touch!