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27 Sep 2018

The AMA has given evidence to the Senate Inquiry into the My Health Record system.

Chair of the AMA’s Ethics and Medico-Legal Committee Dr Chris Moy and Deputy Chair of the AMA Council of General Practice Dr Kean-Seng Lim, appeared in September before a public hearing of the inquiry conducted by the Senate Community Affairs References Committee.
Dr Moy presented a case study of a new patient to an Adelaide doctor, who had moved to South Australia from NSW. The patient had a My Health Record and the Adelaide GP was able to immediately see the NSW tests and results of the patient’s neurological condition.
Within minutes, the GP was able to determine the required treatment plan and begin its implementation from day one.
“The savings in time, stress and money were enormous – for the patient, his family and the wider health system,” Dr Moy said, passing on the remarks of his Adelaide colleague.
The Committee is looking at the My Health Record system with reference to:

  1. the expected benefits of the My Health Record system;
  2. the decision to shift from opt-in to opt-out;
  3. privacy and security, including concerns regarding: 
    1. the vulnerability of the system to unauthorised access, 
    2. the arrangements for third party access by law enforcement, government agencies, researchers and commercial interests, and 
  • arrangements to exclude third party access arrangements to include any other party, including health or life insurers;
  1. the Government’s administration of the My Health Record system roll-out, including: 
    1. the public information campaign, and 
    2. the prevalence of ‘informed consent’ amongst users;
  2. measures that are necessary to address community privacy concerns in the My Health Record system;
  3. how My Health Record compares to alternative systems of digitising health records internationally; and
  4. any other matters.

Concurrently, the Community Affairs Legislative Committee is also reviewing the proposed My Health Records Amendment (Strengthening Privacy) Bill 2018.
The Bill is the Government’s response in addressing the concerns raised by AMA President Dr Tony Bartone at his National Press Club address in July.
Relevant evidence from the two inquiries will be shared between the Community Affairs Committees which are both due to report on October 8 this year.
Meanwhile, Government officials told the Senate hearing that 900,000 Australians have already opted out of the My Health Record system.
The major concerns appear to be over privacy.

But Health Minister Greg Hunt says the opt out rate was far lower than the Government had expected.

The Minister said the system would save lives and it has the potential to be the “best system in the world”.

But Shadow Health Minister Catherine King repeated Labor’s call to suspend the opt-out until all privacy concerns were addressed.

Dr Bartone said the AMA’s appearance at the Senate hearing provided an opportunity to stress that the right processes must be in place in order to build public confidence in the My Health Record system.

“Trust forms the cornerstone of our relationship with our patients. If that trust isn't there, it does circumvent the exchange of information and the confidence,” he told ABC radio.

“One of those things we did seek is an extension of the opt-out period, but also a significant ramping up of the communications and the information and education in this.

“Because it is called My Health Record, because it gives the patient the ability to review, reflect, and be in control of their own summary of medical data.

“It's not their every piece of medical data that they have in the system, because that's in many different places, be it hospitals, be it GPs, be it pathology or diagnostic imaging results, all over the system.

“But it does give them access to their summary of the repository of their information; gives them control; and gives them additional engagement in their health journey; and improves health literacy.

“All of these things will improve their health journey and their health outcomes.”

CHRIS JOHNSON

 


Published: 27 Sep 2018