All Australians can now decide if they want a My Health Record – an online space where they can store, access and share their health information.
Around 5.9 million Australians already have a My Health Record along with 12,860 general practices, hospitals, pharmacies, diagnostic imaging and pathology practices.
Australian Private Hospitals Association CEO Mr Michael Roff says private hospitals support the move to the new record.
“If successfully implemented the record has a lot to offer patients as well as their treating doctors. A record that provides up-to-date information about medications or recent hospitalisations could contribute to patient safety and quality of care,” Mr Roff said.
By the end of 2018, a My Health Record will be created for every Australian, unless they choose not to have one. If people choose not to have a My Health Record, they will be able to opt out of having one created for them during a three-month period ending in October.
Tim Kelsey, chief executive of the Australian Digital Health Agency, said My Health Record had the potential for a long-lasting and positive impact on healthcare services.
“We encourage all Australians to find out about the benefits of the My Health Record,” he said.
Consumers Health Forum CEO, Leanne Wells, said the opt-out period was an important time for Australians to learn more about My Health Record.
“My Health Record gives Australians the opportunity to be active partners in their own care, with many potential benefits for those that decide to have one,” she said.
“The opt-out period is a great opportunity for individuals to learn more about My Health Record so they can understand the impact it could have on their treatments. We are looking forward to seeing more records created by the end of the year, so more Australians can have access to the benefits the platform enables.”
Australians can manage privacy and control access to their My Health Record including what information gets uploaded and who has access such as family members, carers and healthcare providers. Patients can share and control their health information with doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers from anywhere, at any time.
National Rural Health Alliance CEO, Mark Diamond, said My Health Record was particularly important for country people.
“Australians living in rural and regional Australia are more likely to end up in an emergency department from a heart attack, car accident or diabetic coma,” he said.
“If they’re unconscious and the medical team can’t access their health history, the medical team may not be able to provide life-saving care.”
Mr Diamond acknowledged some people may have security concerns about sharing information online.
“However, the Alliance is satisfied that the Australian Digital Health Agency is using the most robust security measures. We ask that all country people balance that small risk against the considerable advantages of having a Mr Health Record,’’ he said.