25 September 2023

Health records to get privacy booster

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Privacy measures relating to the Department of Health’s My Health Record have been strengthened and consumers given more time to opt-out of the program following the initiative being considered in the Senate.

Changes approved by the Parliament include tougher penalties for people who misuse the system; strengthening provisions to safeguard against domestic violence; prohibiting employers from requesting and using health information; and ensuring no health information or de-identified data would be released to insurers.

Announcing the measures, Minister for Health, Greg Hunt said law enforcement Agencies could access a person’s My Health Record only with a warrant or court order and anyone who chose to cancel a record at any time would have it permanently deleted.

“These additional measures will ensure Australians have their health information protected under law in an already secure system,” Mr Hunt said.

“The opt-out period will be extended until 31 January, 2019, however, it’s important to note that people can opt-out or opt-in at any time in their lives.”

He said My Health Record was designed to save lives.

“It can help prevent medication misadventures that see more than 230,000 people end up in hospital each year,” Mr Hunt said.

“This is almost four times the annual number of people who are hospitalised as a result of motor vehicle accidents.”

He said more than six million Australians already had a My Health Record and over 14,000 healthcare professional organisations were connected, including general practices, hospitals, pharmacies, diagnostic imaging and pathology practices.

“There has never been a reported security breach of the system,” Mr Hunt said.

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