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Australia announces 3-month opt out period for My Health Record

Australia announces 3-month opt out period for My Health Record

Currently, more than 5.7 million Australians already have a
My Health Record, which provides a summary of their key health information,
delivering better health outcomes for patients and their treating doctors and
specialists.

As
announced
by the Australian Digital Health Agency, every Australian will be
offered a My Health Record unless they choose not to have one during the three-month
opt out period that will run from 16 July to 15 October 2018.

According to the press statement, the My Health Record
system and opt out process has the full support of all state and territory
governments, who unanimously agreed to this plan in August 2017 at COAG Health Council (CHC).

A national communications strategy will be implemented to
inform all Australians of the benefits of digital health, and to explain the
opt out process. During the opt out period individuals who do not want a record
will be able to opt out by visiting the My Health Record website or
by calling 1800 723 471 for phone-based assistance.

Forms will be provided on request, and additional support
will be provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, people from
non-English speaking backgrounds, people with limited digital literacy, and
those living in rural and remote regions.

After the three-month opt out phase, one month will be
required to reconcile the data and to finalise processing of paper opt out
forms received from Australians living in remote and rural locations, and from
people who do not have access to a computer.

The new records will be activated when individuals login for
the first time or when healthcare providers access records in treating their
patients. Two years of Medicare and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) data
will be uploaded, unless an individual chooses not to include this information.

Individuals will also be able to upload personal notes,
advanced care documentation, and medication and allergy information. Authorised
healthcare providers using approved clinical information software will also
upload health information on allergies, medical conditions and treatments, medicine
details, and test results.

“Strict privacy control, set by an individual, is a central
feature of My Health Record. Each person can control the information in his or
her My Health Record, and the healthcare provider organisations that can have
access,” CEO of Australian Digital Health Agency Mr Tim Kelsey said.

Individuals will be able to ask their healthcare provider
not to add specific test reports and other medical information to their My
Health Record. Individuals can also restrict access to specific information in
their record by applying a Limited Access Code to that that specific document –
or by applying a Personal Access Code to the entire record.

After the end of the opt out period, Australians can cancel
their My Health Record at any time or create one, if they opted out.

Minister for Health Greg Hunt said My Health Record enables
important health information to be securely shared between clinicians and their
patients. It also enables people to take more control of their own health and
wellbeing, manage their children’s health, and upload key documents, like
advanced care directives.

“My Health Record provides many benefits to patients,
including reduced duplication of tests, better coordination of care for people
with chronic and complex conditions, and better informed treatment decisions,” Minister
Hunt said.

“I would encourage each and every Australian to use their My
Health Record and to speak with their healthcare providers regarding these
benefits,” he added.

The announcement follows the Government’s 2017 Budget
allocation of A$374.2 million over two years to expand Australia’s digital
health system. Australian Digital Health Agency CEO Tim Kelsey welcomed the
Australian Government’s commitment to building Australia’s digital health
system.

According to Mr Kelsey, My Health Record is about improving
healthcare for all Australians and the system gives people control over who
sees their health information.

“The Australian Government is continuing to build on its
investment in technology to improve the health and wellbeing of all
Australians. A top priority in Australia’s National Digital Health Strategy
– Safe, Seamless, and Secure
, is for the national expansion of My
Health Record to realise the greatest health benefits,” he said.

The Agency is partnering with the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health
Organisation
(NACCHO) and its state affiliates to raise awareness of My
Health Record with healthcare providers, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islanders, and to provide on the ground support for individuals who choose to
opt out.

Recently, the Australian Digital Health Agency also released a framework for My Health Record to deliver better outcomes for patients.
The Framework defines how data on the My Health Record system can be used for
research and public health purposes while preserving privacy and security of
data in the system.