Published: Fri, November 16, 2018
Medical | By Johnnie Horton

My Health Record opt-out deadline extended after system crash

My Health Record opt-out deadline extended after system crash

The My Health Record opt-out date has been shifted from the 15 November 2018 to 31 January 2019, according to Shadow Health Minister Catherine King.

"This disquiet and concern can largely be attributed to the paucity of information about the opt-out campaign and the lack of balanced information of My Health Record on the government's websites which only spruik claimed benefits".

Australians will now have an extra 10 weeks to opt out of the government's controversial online centralised health records system, My Health Record, with the Senate voting today to extend the deadline until January 31 next year.

The successful Senate vote came after the Senate passed a motion earlier this week to extend the opt-out period "until the legislation and any amendments are passed, outstanding privacy and security issues are addressed and public confidence in this important reform is restored".

The changes, which have bilateral support, include increased penalties for those who misuse the e-health system and a narrowing of the definition of parental responsibility to protect domestic violence victims from being tracked through their children's health records.

After the opt out period, parents or guardians of newborns will be able to opt out of having a My Health Record created for their child as part of their child's Medicare registration.

However, these changes have not yet been passed in parliament.

As Senators debated the proposal, Australians complained on social media that the My Health Record website and helpline had crashed.

Data from September shows that 1.147 million Australians have opted out of the system, and around six million people already have a record after being enrolled under the previous opt-in system.

In response to the backlash, Minister Hunt announced in August plans to make changes so the records could not be accessed by police without a court order, and would be permanently deleted if cancelled by a user.

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The amendment wouldn't have become law before Thursday night's deadline, prompting the minister to step in and extend the date.

"The Australian Digital Health Agency notifies the OAIC in all instances where there may have been a "notifiable data breach" which is a defined term".

A further 88 cases occurred between July 2012 and June this year, including at least eight cases where an unauthorised third party had access to records.

Some doctors don't seem to have the capacity to add information to My Health Record?

You can ask your doctor not to upload sensitive information on to My Health Record.

Additional help line operators were also engaged and the option of a call back was introduced and a record would not be created for those people until the call was returned in coming days.

As it stands the parents of teenagers will be able to access their children's My Health Record making it hard for children to keep private health issues they may wish to hide from their parents.

"They need to get the privacy right so that people understand what is and isn't and how it will be used by healthcare providers and by second parties as well". Tech experts from Melbourne University showed in 2016 how easy it was to re-identify Medicare data and they say it is nearly impossible to fully de-identify health data.

The easiest way is to go to www.myhealthrecord.gov.au, or to call 1800 723 471. If you don't want your health information shared you must tick a box when you activate your My Health Record.

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