My Health Record: Frequently asked questions

Paul Hayes

6/07/2018 11:21:17 AM

newsGP answers some of the important questions regarding the coming My Health Record expansion.

The RACGP’s ‘My Health Record in general practice’ workshops and webinars will be delivered by GPs in each of Australia’s 31 Primary Health Network regions.
The RACGP’s ‘My Health Record in general practice’ workshops and webinars will be delivered by GPs in each of Australia’s 31 Primary Health Network regions.

UPDATED: Many GPs and members of the public have expressed considerable concerns about the increased rollout of My Health Record, particularly in terms of the privacy of patients’ sensitive medical information.
With the three-month opt-out period for My Health Record having started on 16 July, it is important that GPs are able to address queries and concerns about the system.
RACGP President-elect Dr Harry Nespolon spoke with Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt this week about GPs’ concerns regarding privacy provisions in the legislation, and received an agreement that the Federal Government will work to strengthen these in line with government policy and practice.
However, GPs who still have questions about My Health Record will be able to learn more at the RACGP’s ‘My Health Record in general practice’ workshops and webinars, to be delivered by GPs in each of Australia’s 31 Primary Health Network regions.

Here are some of Australia’s most frequently asked questions:

What is My Health Record?
My Health Record is Australia’s national electronic health record system. It is an online repository for documents and data containing information about an individual’s health and healthcare.

The information in a My Health Record can come from an individual patient, their healthcare providers, or Medicare. The individual controls their own My Health Record, deciding whether to make their information available to healthcare organisations.

How is My Health Record changing in 2018?
The My Health Record system is changing from a participant self-registration (‘opt-in’) model to an ‘opt-out’ model.

In 2018, every person known to Medicare and/or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs will have a My Health Record created for them, unless they notify the Federal Government they do not want one between 16 July and 15 October.

What does the move to an opt-out model mean for GPs?
With an increase in healthcare consumer participation in My Health Record, general practice teams are more likely to encounter questions from patients about the system and how it is used by healthcare providers.

In what situations might My Health Record be useful?
My Health Record might provide an additional source of information for GPs that is not available via normal communication channels. The intention behind My Health Record is that it will ultimately help healthcare providers spend more time with patients and less time searching for information.

GPs may experience particular benefit in using My Health Record with travelling/itinerant patients who are expected to see a number of different healthcare providers, or with patients who have chronic or multiple medical conditions.

Access to My Health Record might also help patients better track and manage their own health.

How can GPs access My Health Record?
GPs must first register for various services to access My Health Record. More information can be found on the Australian Digital Health Agency’s My Health Record website.

Once they are registered, GPs can view and upload information to My Health Record using a compatible clinical information system, or connect using the Provider Portal, which is a view-only platform.
Can the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) access my record without my permission?
The Department of Health has released a document entitled Framework to guide the secondary use of My Health Record system data (the Framework), which outlines how My Health Record data can be used for secondary purposes, such as research, policy and planning.
The Framework does not allow for the surveillance of medical practitioners or practice claims and records, and describes the governance mechanisms and processes to be implemented before data can be released for secondary purposes.
Key principles:

  • Individuals can choose to have a My Health Record but elect that their information not be used for secondary purposes
  • System data cannot be used solely for commercial and non-health-related purposes
  • My Health Record system data cannot be provided to insurance agencies
  • An explicit consent option must be available in the system access controls before system data can be considered for clinical trials recruitment
  • The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has custodianship for the secondary use of system data
  • Applications for system data will be assessed by a Data Governance Board (the Board), comprising representatives from the AIHW, the Australian Digital Health Agency and a range of independent experts
  • The Board will consider applications for the secondary use of de-identified My Health Record system data, as well as identified data with the consent of the healthcare recipient
  • The Board will regularly reconsider the privacy protection processes around secondary use of system data
How can individual GPs control their own My Health Record?
Individuals can:
  • choose not to have a record at all (either by opting out between 16 July and 15 October, or by cancelling an existing record at any time)
  • direct their healthcare provider to not add particular information to their My Health Record
  • restrict particular healthcare organisations’ access to their entire My Health Record, or documents contained within it
  • remove particular documents from view
  • track how others have accessed and updated their My Health Record through an audit log.
Individuals cannot:
  • alter the content of clinical documents created by a healthcare provider
  • delete documents entirely (only remove particular documents from view so they are hidden to healthcare providers)
  • restrict particular healthcare providers’ access to their My Health Record within a particular healthcare organisation (only restrict access to the healthcare organisation as a whole).
There are provisions for healthcare providers to access a patient’s My Health Record for a limited period in the event of an emergency in order to aid that person’s care.

What do GPs need to know about patient consent with regard to My Health Record?
In registering for a My Health Record or by choosing not to opt-out and allowing a record to be created, consumers provide ‘standing consent’ for all healthcare organisations involved in their care to upload clinical information to their record.
There is no requirement for a provider to obtain consent from the patient on each occasion prior to uploading clinical information. GPs may decide to speak to the patient before uploading sensitive information.

What is the RACGP’s position regarding My Health Record?
The RACGP supports the vision for a national eHealth record and is committed to ensuring members have the necessary knowledge to make an informed decision about participating in My Health Record.
Visit the RACGP website to access the college’s position statement.

Where can I learn more about My Health Record?
The RACGP is working in collaboration with the Australian Digital Health Agency to deliver members an education program on My Health Record.
GPs and practice teams are invited to attend a ‘My Health Record in general practice’ workshop or webinar, which are being delivered by GPs in each of Australia’s 31 Primary Health Network (PHN) regions over the coming months.
Visit the RACGP website for more information, including to book a place or access relevant resources.

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J Sterrett   11/07/2018 12:09:50 PM

The piece of information I can not find is....Which providers can use the break glass feature to access the records despite privacy controls? Is it every registered provider - eg pharmacists, physios,etc. Or is it limited to say ERs? Does anyone know?

Dr Muhammad Iqbal   12/07/2018 9:16:09 PM

any on-line method to become familiar with FAQs re My Health Records.

Dr M Wild   16/10/2018 3:44:27 PM

If a Specialist report is headed "For your records only and not to be released to a third Party without the author's consent" can it be uploaded?

newsGP   16/10/2018 4:37:05 PM

Thanks for your query, Dr Wild. The RACGP Practice Technology and Management team has advised that, as a general rule, you should not upload documents you have not authored yourself. Feel free to contact if you have further questions. Thank you.