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The cases for and against opting out of My Health Record

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The Federal Government will be moving our medical records onto a national My Health Record electronic database but, despite reassuring Australians their data is safe, they are offering a three month opt-out period.

People who don’t want their medical records stored electronically now have until October 15 to remove themselves from the program.

My Health Record will be a centralised database which will allow patients and doctors to upload medical information.

These will include allergies, chronic health conditions, x-rays and scans, Medicare claims history and prescriptions with users able to decide who can access that information.

Privacy and access settings can also be set up so the records can be secured with a PIN code.

So what should you do? Stay in or opt out?

Here are the cases for and against.

STAY IN

– Doctors will have access to your important medical information including test results, referrals, chronic health conditions, allergies, immunisation history as well as organ donation information. This will ensure proper medical care no matter which doctor you see.

– It will reduce unnecessary duplication of tests and allow for better coordinated care for patients seeing multiple doctors.

– You can control what information you want to include. If users have any concern for privacy this will help them address it.

– Selling data to a third party will be strictly prohibited.

– The system will reduce the number of medication errors which has hospitalised more than 230,000 Australians.

– The government says your information will be protected and only be accessible by authorised healthcare providers.

– User can see when and where their documents have been accessed and people can set up email notifications when a healthcare organisation accesses your record for the first time.

OPT OUT

– There is a risk, however unlikely, that your information may be exposed if there is a data breach.

– Your health data will be available to more medical practitioners than ever before, increasing the risk for errors and data leaks.

– My Health Data records will be held for 30 years after your death or 130 years after your birth, whichever is easier to determine.

– Data can be used for research and public health purposes in an anonymous form which adds another security risk.

– Policies around how your data is handled may change after a change of government or leader.

– No one can absolutely guarantee the security of your My Health Data records.

Those who want to remain within the My Health Record database are not required to do anything. They will automatically be included.

Anyone who wants to opt out needs to visit theAustralian Digital Health Agency website and complete the online process before October 15.