Are your medical records exposed without your consent?

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90% of Australians have agreed to have their private health records online!

Despite the controversial headlines such as My Health Record: clinics receiving up to $50,000 a year in incentives and  My health record  opt out doubles to 2.5 million people  My Health Record has met a key default milestone.

Yes, 90% of Australians have agreed to have their private health records online!

Over 90% of all Australians by default have ‘agreed’ to the uploading of their sensitive health records. The Federal Government has legislated that it does not need your informed consent. Of real concern is that most people do not know this or even seem to care. It appears to be a non-issue given the lack of public debate and lack of mass media coverage. 

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The US cannot get electronic health records right how can Australia?

Even though the US Government has failed to universally computerise medical health records that have led to unnecessary suffering and death see Death by a Thousand Clicks:Where Electronic Health Records Went Wrong.

Alarmingly, we seem to be travelling an identical path to the US. With over $30 billion (we have spent $2billion in the last 10 years) and talent if they cannot get it right what makes us any different?

We think centralised computer records is a good idea, but we do question the way the Government went about it. It is achievable like in the accounting profession but using a different non-government centralised model. It works like Xero with software ad ons that connect to the Tax Office and banks with the user’s permission. Best of all no government money is required like the accounting software industry.

Privacy v Convenience

We as individuals seem to be comfortable in handing over our private information without hesitation if it seems like it’s a good cause. Especially if it has a Government protected stamp on it. We should look a little more carefully when it comes to Government endorsed programs that unintentionally may do more harm than good.

The lesson seems to be is that Governments can do what they want because we let them.

It begs the question; why do so many people seem to be too busy (or the issues too complex) to debate and discuss them, or indeed to do anything to protect their basic rights as individuals. If it concerns our own financial security… only then does it pique our interest. Alas, if it were only that simple!

The Federal Government has set an astonishing precedent. This unique — and expedient —the strategy of collecting the most sensitive data about you, i.e. your personal health information, is what online behemoths Facebook, Apple and Google can only dream of. No doubt, every other Government around the world is watching the Australian case with interest. We are in uncharted territory.

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It appears that Governments on either side of the political spectrum can take great comfort knowing they could introduce legislation that, practically overnight, could become law by default simply because ordinary citizens either forgot, or were not interested and/or did not have the time to register their views.

One can only speculate what else a government may be tempted to do, given the very little public concern or debate that exists on something so important as your health information. This is about your fundamental rights.

The Federal Government has legislated measures that it says will protect your data, but these promises are cold comfort. It cannot legislate good behaviour from criminals and wrongdoers. It will not stop accidental breaches or hackers working offshore. How do you prosecute a hacker operating in another country who steals your data? You can’t.

Why has there been no major public mass media campaign?

Good governance in a democratic society allows for an open and transparent debate. With the introduction of the same sex laws, Australia witnessed large scale media coverage and discussion. The My Health record debate was modest by comparison. It should have gained much more exposure in the media.

No surprise then that such important laws were passed with a relatively small whimper of opposition.

The matter was not even an election issue, despite its importance.

Where to from here?

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So where do we stand? In our view, having a centralised place for all your medical and health records is a great thing. It saves you from remembering what health practitioner you saw, why you saw them when you saw them, and what they said. It maintains continuity of information so that subsequent health practitioners know what transpired.

This sounds admirable, even simple. However, it is also important to ask; if you have not opted out, then what actually happens with your data, how reliable is it, who is uploading what information and when?

The most important questions you should ask yourself are:

  1. Have I given my informed consent to have all this sensitive information uploaded?
  2. Am I clear who can access the information and when, and what are the implications of the system?

If you did not opt out of the system then you are already in by default, simply by doing nothing. You have opted in whether you like it or not. However, you can opt out anytime.

The information below is to assist patients and practices to decide what they want to do next.

For patients:

My Health Record agency adds ‘reputation’, ‘public interest’ cancellation options to app contracts

How to opt out of the Government’s national electronic health records noHealth Engine Patient Data scandal; what should you do next?

Your Medical Records Exposed… Confirmed!

For practices:

Your Private Medical Condition Exposed?! A $20 solution!

For more information contact us at Health and Life pa@healthandlife.com.au or call us for a no-obligation free consultation.

(c)Health and Life Pty Ltd

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