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My Health Record needs a doctor

My Health Record

The Australian government has been trying to develop a centralised digital health record system for years. The My Health Records Act commenced in 2012 and since then 6 million Australians have signed up. Now, unless they decide to opt out by the deadline, they will automatically have a My Health Record generated.



A positive aspect of the My Health Record program is the potential of a centralised health record, particularly for older people and others with incapacity who have complex chronic health conditions and multiple medications because of it, can reduce confusion and improve communication between health practitioners.


Privacy concerns

However, concerns have been increasingly raised about the privacy aspects of the My Health Record. Critics maintain that centralised health records should only be accessed by health professionals and that no other external agencies should access the system.

However, section 98 of the My Health Record Act, gives the “system operator” – currently the Australian Digital Health Agency – the power to delegate “any function” to “any other person” with consent of the minister. The government has now promised to ensure that any third party access to medical records, which under the current legislation can be granted to authorities including police, courts, government agencies and the Australian Taxation Office, may only be granted with a court order.

The breadth of the availability of the information has caused unrest because people believe the My Health Record was created to improve medical care for Australians, not to provide private information to non-medical authorities.

Concerns about data security have also been raised because there have been nine data breaches of the My Health Record in the last two years.


Opting out time extended

Because of the strong wave of criticism of the current system, the government has now extended the opt-out period to 31 January 2019 while it goes back to the drawing board with its legislation.


More information

You can access the My Health Record website by clicking here and the Opt Out process by clicking here.

If you have any legal queries regarding this article or otherwise please call us on 07 5597 3366 or fill out the ‘Contact Us’ form at the bottom of the page.


Please note that this article has been prepared by Margaret Miller, partner of Bell Legal Group, for information purposes only. It is not legal advice nor should it be relied upon as such.