Australia

Today is your last chance to opt-out of the government's digital health record

Thursday is the last day you can opt-out of the federal government’s controversial $2 billion national electronic health record before you are automatically enrolled, enabling hundreds of thousands of Australian healthcare professionals to gain access to your private medical information.

Called My Health Record, the system, built by IT outsourcer Accenture, aims to centralise health records, allowing patient information to be readily available to various medical professionals.

The three-month opt-out period for the record was first meant to occur between July 16 and October 15 last year, but was extended to November 15 after an outcry over privacy and security concerns.

It was then extended a second time, until January 31 this year, to address the issue of proposed privacy fixes by Health Minister Greg Hunt not being passed by Parliament in time.

People who want to opt-out can do so using their Medicare details and personal identification through the My Health Record website or help line 1800 723 471. However, the online system has crashed on multiple occasions as each opt-out period has begun or ended or gained media attention.

Privacy concerns
Proponents say the shared health record, which will be accessible to as many as 900,000 health professionals by the end of the roll-out, will potentially save lives by, among other benefits, alerting doctors of patient allergies and medications.

But privacy advocates say concerns remain about the security and design of the system.

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