My Health Record to be revised for digital privacy

My Health Record to be revised for digital privacy

My Health Record to be revised for digital privacy

Dr Phelps warned patients would no longer trust their doctors with medical secrets if they feared their health records could be accessed to charge them with drug crimes, prostitution or abortion. That's seems to be par for the course in general in government, but the past few have been particularly so, especially when it comes to understanding the digital needs of its citizens.

"This change to the My Health Record Act will therefore remove any ambiguity on this matter", he said.

"That kind of legislative change means our most sensitive information can't be accessed by police or government agencies unless they have a court order".

The prime minister had signalled the government would make "refinements" to the scheme - but a growing backlash lead to calls for changes including requiring law enforcement agencies to get a warrant to access the records and dramatically narrowing the grounds to release information.

While we'd have to hope the government would wise up on its belief the system is hackproof (because that doesn't exist, and is basically a shout out to criminals to try), at least it has bowed to pressure to change its legislation, something Fairfax confirmed in a story with a statement from Health Minister Greg Hunt.

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"Greg Hunt has completely bungled the My Health Record rollout and he must do a great deal more to fully restore public trust in this important reform", King said in a statement.

Mr Hunt said the government will continue to advocate to the public about the benefits of the digital health record system.

People have until October 15 if they want to opt out of the system, but the minister may extend that deadline by another month.

The announcement was made after Hunt held crisis talks last night with the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).

The government said it will also allow individuals to permanently cancel their record.

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"Even though the Australian Digital Health Agency says that would never happen, and importantly it never has happened, the legislation did not make that clear", he said.

"When a patient steps into the office of one of our Global Positioning System, we want them to know that their health information is private and protected", said RACGP president-elect Dr Harry Nespolon.

Tony Bartone, president of the AMA, said "after the assurances we received last night and the commitment to strengthen the legislation, we can now move forward and have certainty around the protections to the privacy of those records that our patients expect". The amendments will also allow individuals to delete their record after the opt-out window closes.

Today, he explained, a doctor is likely to be at least consulted if there's a demand for a patient's information; under the MyHealth Record structure, the decision to release "can fall to a bureaucrat", and the doctor won't necessarily be in the loop.

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