Published: Fri, November 16, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

No 'single' My Health Record opt-out deadline: Greg Hunt

No 'single' My Health Record opt-out deadline: Greg Hunt

The Senate on Wednesday forced Health minister Greg Hunt's hand by heeding calls to delay the end of the opt-out period until January 31, 2019.

This gives Australians almost seven more weeks to opt out of the controversial centralised digital health records system before a record is created for them automatically.

The opt-out system failed for the second time in eight days on Wednesday, when the Australian Digital Health Agency reported a surge in calls to its helpline and people trying to opt out online said the website had crashed.

Update: 14:55pm: Health Minister Greg Hunt tweeted a confirmation of the extension.

The government says the My Health Record is subject to military grade security and has been "defence tested".

The motion called 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".

Other changes include increased penalties, with fines more than doubling to $315,000 or up to five years' jail, for those who misuse the system, according to the website WAtoday.

Asked about the eight cases where unauthorised third parties had access to My Health Records, the spokesman said: "The term "privacy breach" is not defined in legislation". The changes are awaiting the green light from parliament.

Many Australians have waited to the 11th hour to opt out of having a medical record automatically generated, putting the system under considerable strain.

In response to the backlash, Minister Hunt announced in August plans to make changes so the records could not be accessed by police without a court order, and would be permanently deleted if cancelled by a user.

The opt-out deadline had already been extended from its original date of October 15.

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"The government needs to take seriously the decision of the Senate to recommend an extension of the opt-out date", Dr Phelps said on Tuesday.

Insurers and health insurers have been arguing they should get access to the record. The record can then be deleted at any time.

"Our primary concern is that under the My Health Record scheme, workers may be vulnerable to incremental and intrusive requests by employers seeking access to such personal information".

What is My Health Record?

There will be regular security audits of My Health Record but any documents downloaded or created by a doctor could also be stored on their local IT system and the security of this will depend on their system.

The Digital Health Agency has denied there was an outage, saying the system had slowed down under the higher demand but remained operational.

"From a technical point of view, there are access controls in place, however, the data itself, at this stage, is in plain format, it is not encrypted", he said.

You can opt out of My Health for your child as part of their Medicare registration. "In addition, no health information or de-identified data to be released to insurers", Hunt said. "Which is a flawless example of why I want to opt out in the first place", Melbourne resident Ben Jessup tweeted.

There are concerns that domestic violence perpetrators may be able to use their access to their children's My Health Record to track down their partners who may be in hiding and fear for their safety.

As it stands the parents of teenagers will be able to access their children's My Health Record making it hard for children to keep private health issues they may wish to hide from their parents.

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