Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

My Health privacy to be tightened: Hunt

My Health Record: Greg Hunt promises to redraft legislation after public outcry Greg Hunt backs down over My Health Record privacy provisions
Gustavo Carr | 03 August, 2018, 16:28

Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk has also raised concerns with Mr Hunt and the Australian Digital Health Agency, which is administering the scheme, while former AMA President Kerryn Phelps highlighted concerns with the legislation and warned that GPs may boycott the system.

The extent to which the My Health Record legislation allowed warrantless access to the records and health data they contained has been in the spotlight over the past week.

The changes will be implemented and introduced as soon as possible, he said.

"The amendment will ensure no record can be released to police or government agencies, for any objective, without a court order", he said.

A requirement for a court order will be "enshrined in legislation", a statement issued by Hunt said.

Australia's peak medical bodies have won some concessions over the privacy of the country's MyHealth Record, and the government says it will extend the opt-out period to mid-November, but it's unlikely to end the hostile debate over the initiative.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt will toughen laws around who can access the My Health Record system, as well as giving people greater control over removing the information in a bid to fend off growing privacy concerns about the online medical database.

"Mr Hunt's response also does nothing to address new concerns the My Health Record may risk the safety of women fleeing abusive partners", Labor's health spokeswoman Catherine King said on Wednesday.

Mr Hunt said the reform would "remove any ambiguity on this matter".

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And - Vulture South is certain you'll be thrilled to hear this - the release also trumpets that the government will work with medical leaders on some kind of spin strategy, or as the release puts it, "additional communications to the public about the benefits and objective of the My Health Record".

The results come amid News Corp findings that claims there has never been a data breach of the My Health Record are not true.

The minister said that while the existing legislation was not a problem, he wanted to offer additional reassurances on privacy.

"Changes to the legislation that remove any questions about who may be able to access the records ensure that the records will be able to be used in line with the RACGP's position statement on My Health Records", said RACGP president-elect Dr Harry Nespolon.

Cancelling a record means it remains in the system but is made "unavailable", with health providers unable to access it.

Tony Bartone, president of the AMA, said "after the assurances we received last night and the commitment to strengthen the legislation, we can now move forward and have certainty around the protections to the privacy of those records that our patients expect".

'A patient's medical record contains highly sensitive, confidential and privileged information.

He also welcomed the change to allow records to be permanently deleted rather than stored.