There are just days left to opt out of My Health Record – but there’s another push to extend the deadline again

  • The Senate today demanded an extension to the opt out date for My Health Record.
  • Australians have until Thursday this week to say they don’t want a digital health record.
  • But the Senate today says this should be extended until promised privacy protections have been put in place.

The Senate today demanded an extension of the deadline to opt out of the My Health Record until amendments can be made to the law to strengthen privacy provisions.

Australians have until Thursday to officially pull out of having a digital health record or one will be created automatically.

A Senate motion today, passed 35 votes to 22, calls on the government to “extend or suspend the opt-out period until the legislation and any amendments are passed, outstanding privacy and security issues are addressed and public confidence in this important reform is restored”.

The Federal Government has promised further legislative amendments to ensure the safety and privacy of health information in the My Health Record system.

Among the measures are provisions to protect people against domestic violence and tougher penalties for those who misuse the system.

The period to opt-out of My Health Record has already been extended by an extra month to November 15 following controversy about whether or not police and other authorities can access the digital record.

That extension came after the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Royal College of General Practitioners asked that Australians be given more time to consider their options.

The AMA is a big supporter of the the project to create digital records for patients, saying the clinical benefits are enormous.

The key issue had been whether or not these digital health records will have the same protections that paper records now have. Currently doctors will not release medical records without a warrant or a court order.

However, the Federal Government promised to amend the law to require a court order to release any My Health Record information to police or government agencies without consent. These amendments have passed the House of Representatives.

And Health Minister Greg Hunt last week promised further legislative amendments to ensure privacy including increased penalties for improper use of a My Health Record: the maximum criminal penalty increasing to five years jail from two; increase of maximum fines for individuals to $315,000 from $126,000.

The legislation will also prohibit an employer from requesting and using an individual’s My Health Record and protecting employees and potential employees from discriminatory use of their information.

More than 6.1 million Australians already have a My Health Record.