The report released today of the Senate Inquiry into My Health Record (MHR) reveals a Government intent on collecting data on patients without their knowledge, without knowing how or how well the data will be used including for commercial purposes, and without telling Australians about the many problems that this Record has. We welcome the recommendation that the Opt Out policy (which forces an MHR on people without telling them) be deferred for a further twelve months whilst the many issues raised are addressed.
These are some of those issues which the Government has failed to address.
- At least a third of Australians are not aware of the scheme and will therefore have their private data uploaded without their consent
- Most health care providers have not signed up to MHR which means most patients cannot benefit from their involvement with these providers
- Most specialists are not part of the scheme and there has been no direct attempt by Government to involve them personally
- The Government has not addressed the problems relating to many vulnerable groups including
- Victims of family violence
- Sex workers
- Those with mental illnesses
- Those who cannot themselves control their own record because of lack of skills, language and cultural barriers, lack of money, lack of good relationship with a regular supportive GP
With all of the above issues to address, the suggestion that the security of the data is ‘world class’ is dubious at best. The Government has not yet implemented its framework for use of the data for ‘research’ and other purposes. For three weeks the Government rejected calls for better controls over data access by police and welfare departments until accepting better legislation was required. This is a clear indication the Government cannot be trusted to do the right thing.
The concept of patients using their records to be more in control of their health is great but is only a reality for those who are capable.
The concept of a MHR is good to improve continuity of care, reduce medical errors, and enable some patients to take control.
The implementation of this concept is shocking. Currently the scheme is not fit for purpose.
We call on the Government to adopt all of the recommendations of the report and defer or abandon permanently the change from Opt In to Opt Out which forces a record on anyone who does not actively opt out by November 15th this year.