RACGP warns of parents’ ability to see teenagers’ data on My Health Record

Doug Hendrie

12/09/2018 2:43:39 PM

The RACGP has alerted the Government to growing concerns regarding parents’ access to teenagers’ sensitive health data on My Health Record.

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Dr Nathan Pinskier, Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – eHealth, believes the issue of teenagers’ privacy is shaping up as a major concern among GPs.

At a Senate committee inquiry into My Health Record last night in Canberra, Dr Nathan Pinskier, speaking on behalf of the RACGP, called for a halt to the current policy allowing authorised representatives access to teenage children’s health data.  
Prior to the hearing, Dr Pinskier told newsGP that the issue is shaping up as a major concern among GPs, particularly in terms of sensitive areas such as sexual health.
‘Say a patient is 15 and has a sexually transmitted infection. If a parent sees [that data], it would cause significant consequences,’ he said.
‘How many kids at 14 think, “I can get my documents, take control and de-link my parents?”
‘And if they did that, what would the parents say when they realise they can no longer access their child’s records? It’s fraught with peril.’
Speaking at the inquiry, Dr Pinskier, who is Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – eHealth and Practice Services (REC–eHPS), proposed that when a person reaches 13 years and nine months of age, they be sent a letter advising them of their options relating to control of their data stored on My Health Record.
When the person turns 14, their parent or authorised representative would immediately lose access to their child’s data by default, with all automatic data feeds deactivated until the teen either takes control or turns 18. 
The security and privacy of health data on My Health Record has been widely debated in recent months, forcing the Government to push through strengthened privacy amendments, as urged by the RACGP.
Dr Pinskier also called for an improved consent process the first time a shell record – an empty record set up in advance – is activated, either when a consumer opens their record for the first time or a healthcare provider searches for or uploads to a consumer’s record.
‘My Health Record is a complex system. [The RACGP] believes an opt-out model that provides standing consent for healthcare providers to access and upload to a patient’s record requires a broad and in-depth consumer awareness campaign,’ he told the inquiry.
‘It is not well known by consumers what the implications are in terms of how their shell record will be activated [known as a “trigger event”].
‘Once the record is activated, the default access control settings effectively allow any healthcare provider with access to My Health Record to access, upload and download from a consumer’s My Health Record for the purposes of providing healthcare.’
Dr Pinskier said a positive consent statement would offer enhanced control.
‘After a record is created, the doctor would say, “I know you’ve got a shell record with no information in it. I’m going to upload something, which will open your record. Is that okay?”’ he said. 
Dr Pinskier also called for a direct payment to be made to GPs, rather than their practice, for the work required to create data for My Health Record. He recommended the introduction of an additional service-based incentive, paid to the healthcare provider responsible for upload, which would support the upload of accurate, high-quality data.
Dr Pinskier also recommended that a consumer’s My Health Record clearly identify their usual GP or nominated healthcare provider by displaying their GP’s name prominently on their My Health Record. He believes this will encourage better continuity of care and improve communication between healthcare providers.
At present, Dr Pinskier said, ‘meaningful adoption has remained low and scepticism is rife.’ However, he argued that with continued uptake by the healthcare sector, My Health Record has the potential to improve healthcare in Australia.
In August, the Senate referred the My Health Records Amendment (Strengthening Privacy) Bill 2018 to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee for inquiry. 
The RACGP will make a formal submission to the Senate inquiry on Friday, and the committee will hand down its report on 8 October.

my health record patient data senate inquiry

Dr T   14/09/2018 9:40:02 AM

As the mother of a soon to be 13 year old who still very much a child who does not even have her own email address at home, I am very disappointed in the RACGP's approach to this. Parents should be able to access the medical records of their children up to the age of 17.

Christine Troy   14/09/2018 8:28:28 PM

The strange thing about medicare is that the day your child turns 14, you can't access their medicare record. The child can't access the record either until they are 16, then they can log on, but they can't actually see any data (such as billings) until they are 18. Even if they have a disability! This is my experience. I wonder if it's the same for my health record, if so, the 14 to 16 year old won't be able to get in anyway.

concerned parent   4/02/2019 5:15:33 PM

‘Say a patient is 15 and has a sexually transmitted infection. If a parent sees [that data], it would cause significant consequences,’ he said.

Well ya know good parents dont allow their kids to have sex, so if they are caught out then yes ofc punishment may arise normal stuff if you ask me , stop trying to take the rights of parents and their ability to raise them how they see fit not how the government sees fit.


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