The Senate committee looking at the My Health Record System has recently lodged its report that includes a number of recommendations about measures to ensure greater scrutiny of this process in the interests of properly protecting people’s health record information.
Maurice Blackburn, together with a number of unions, raised many concerns about the proposed legislation including the potential risk of My Health Record information being used against the interests of Australians by insurers and employers, as well as the need for increased protections.
Some of the key recommendations to come from this recent Senate report include the following:
That record access codes should be applied to each My Health Record as a default and that individuals should be required to choose to remove the code. The committee further recommends that the ability to override access codes in the case of an emergency should only be available to registered healthcare providers for use in extraordinary and urgent situations.
That data which is likely to be identifiable from an individual's My Health Record not be made available for secondary use without the individual's explicit consent.
That the current prohibition on secondary access to My Health Record data for commercial purposes be strengthened to ensure that My Health Record data cannot be used for commercial purposes.
That no third-party access to an individual's My Health Record be permissible, without the explicit permission of the patient, except to maintain accurate contact information.
That the Australian Government amend the My Health Records Act 2012 and the Healthcare Identifiers Act 2010 to ensure that it is clear that an individual's My Health Record cannot be accessed for employment or insurance purposes.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government extend the opt-out period for the My Health Record system for a further twelve months.
These are important steps that in our view must now be acted on to ensure that the health record data of all Australians is appropriately protected and that any future use of this data is clearly defined with the proper consent mechanisms in place.