News

MHR privacy to be further strengthened to prevent abuse of system


Amanda Lyons


7/11/2018 3:37:08 PM

Greg Hunt has announced legislative changes to the safety and privacy provisions of My Health Record.

The Federal Government has aimed to address further concerns about My Health Record and patient privacy with additional legislative amendments.
The Federal Government has aimed to address further concerns about My Health Record and patient privacy with additional legislative amendments.

My Health Record has been the subject of much debate, with health professionals and patients expressing concern it will lead to breaches of sensitive health data.
 
These concerns were partially addressed earlier this year with tougher privacy provisions that enabled Australians to not just opt out of the system, but also cancel their records permanently.
 
But concerns remained, particularly in relation to vulnerable groups such as people experiencing family violence and teenagers, who may wish to shield certain health information from abusive partners or parents. Labor and the Australian Greens called for a Senate inquiry to explore these concerns, with its recommendations provided last month.
 
Minister Hunt today announced further legislative changes to the safety and privacy provisions of My Health Record.

‘We have examined the recommendations from the Senate inquiry, we have listened to concerns raised by a range of groups and My Health Record users,’ Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said.
 
RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon met with Minister Hunt earlier this year to discuss GPs’ concerns regarding My Health Record and patient privacy, which resulted in a commitment by the Federal Government to improve this aspect of the system.
 
Dr Nespolon told newsGP he believes Minister Hunt should be commended for listening to RACGP recommendations regarding the privacy and security of My Health Record, and for proposing legislation designed to protect the community.
 
‘Protecting sensitive health information is crucial to maintaining a trusted doctor–patient relationship, which enables us to provide the best possible care,’ Dr Nespolon said. ‘While the RACGP supports the creation of a national electronic health record, it has to be implemented in a way that supports and protects patient privacy.
 
‘The legislative changes that have been announced today will help to protect some of our most vulnerable patients, while also providing serious penalties for abusing the My Health Record system.
 
‘I now look forward to seeing this legislation passed and working with the Federal Government to continue to help improve peace of mind for many GPs and their patients using My Health Record.’
 
Amendments that will be made to the legislation:

  • Increased penalties for the improper use of a My Health Record, from a maximum criminal penalty of 2–5 years in jail, and maximum fines for individuals from $126,000 to $315,000.
  • If a person has restricted access to a child, or may pose a risk to a child or a person associated with the child, they cannot be the authorised representative of a minor. If an individual or situation poses a risk to life, health or safety, the Australian Digital Health Agency will not be required to notify that individual about certain decisions.
  • Employers will be prohibited from requesting and using health information from employees’ My Health Record. Nor can employers or insurers ask people to share their My Health Record information.
  • No health information or de-identified data will be released to private health or other types of insurers for research or public health purposes.
  • The system operator will not be able to delegate functions to organisations other than the Department of Health and the Chief Executive of Medicare. 
Harry-hero.jpgRACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon says Health Minister Greg Hunt should be commended for listening to RACGP recommendations regarding the privacy and security of My Health Record.

While the Senate inquiry also recommended improvements in privacy for teenagers aged between 14–17, Minister Hunt said the current provisions in the legislation, which provide default access of parents to these records, will be reviewed rather than changed at this time.
 
The My Health Record opt-out date will not be extended beyond 15 November, a decision of which Labor is critical.
 
‘Australians need more time to understand the changes,’ Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare Catherine King said. ‘These changes have been made with only days left until the opt-out deadline closes.’



My Health Record patient data privacy





Comments



 Security code