I have a confession to make: I don’t have my ‘own’ doctor and never really have. You see, my dad is a doctor and my mum was a nurse, so I was always sorted as a kid and luckily I’ve never really been seriously ill as an adult (touch wood). So, when I need to go to the doctor for check-ups, to get my script for the pill filled or for random ailments, I normally just go to whatever medical centre is close and offers bulk billing. The downside of this is that my medical record is spread all over the place. So for me, the idea of the My Health Record is a godsend.
For those who aren’t aware, the My HealthRecord is an individualised online summary of your key health information that all Australians will get unless they tell the Australian Government they don’t want one by November 15 this year. You’ll be able to access this information online anytime and anywhere, and your GP and other health professionals will be able to access information including:
Medical history and emergency contacts
Medicines you are taking
Medical conditions you have been diagnosed with
Pathology test results like blood tests
Advance Care Plans.
But it turns out, not everyone is as enthused about the My Health Record as I am. In fact, many Aussies strongly oppose it, due to privacy concerns. So, should you opt out your online health record? Here, we weigh up the pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.
While there have been no reported incidences of hacking in the 6 years My Health Record has been active, the chances of it happening will be far higher as it becomes mainstream. Some GPs are also concerned that the My Health Record system won’t be sophisticated enough to accurately report a patient’s health history. Various domestic abuse support groups have also opposed the My Health Record, due to a loophole that allows parents that do not have primary custody of their children to create a record on their child’s behalf. This means an abusive ex-partner can thereby gain access to details including the location of doctors and pharmacies visited by their child and their primary caregiver, making it easier to track down victims in hiding.
There’s no doubt that the My Health Record will make health care more convenient and efficient for both patients and practitioners, as they will no longer have to rely on the patient’s memory for their medical history. It allows you, as the patient, to take a more active and engaged role in your own health journey. Plus, if you’re someone who visits a range of health practitioners (for example, a doctor and a physiotherapist) it allows for easier communication, as they will each be able to access your records in one convenient space. It’s also extremely helpful if you find yourself in an emergency unable to talk, as they will be able to access your relevant medical information, as well as your emergency contacts.
The Federal Health Minister also recently announced the plan to address some privacy concerns about the My Health Record, following feedback from general practice and the community. A court order will now be required to release any MyHealthRecord information without consent — including to the police or government agencies. The legislation will also be revised to ensure that if someone wishes to cancel their record, they will be able to do so permanently, with their record deleted from the system
If you do decide to opt out of the My Health Record, make sure you let the government know by November 15 by visiting the My Health Record site and following the steps.