The opt-out period for My Health Record has been extended

Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

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

The extension comes 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 has 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.

Currently section 70 of the My Health Records Act 2012 enables the Australian Digital Health Agency to “use or disclose health information” in an individual’s My Health Record if it believes it is “reasonably necessary” to prevent, detect, investigate or prosecute a criminal offence, or protect the public revenue or remedy “seriously improper conduct”.

However, the Federal Government has promised to amend the law to require a court order to release any My Health Record information to police or government agencies without consent.

Last week in Alice Springs all health ministers unanimously reaffirmed their support for My Health Record, the national opt-out approach and steps to strengthen the legislation.

“I welcome the bi-partisan support from both Labor and Liberal state governments for this important health reform,” says Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.