The Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) has revealed it has established a cyber security centre to help safeguard the My Health Record system.
The new Digital Health Cyber Security Centre will “ensure Australian healthcare is at the cutting edge of international data security,” according to the agency.
“Its primary purpose is to protect the national digital health systems and personal health information of Australians from the cyber threat, and to raise the security posture of the Australian health sector,” states an ADHA developed national eHealth strategy document.
The centre partners with “national and international cyber security organisations, across government and the private sector, to improve knowledge of the cyber threat and leverage shared expertise and material across organisations,” the document states.
“It will support the security of Australian healthcare information by sharing best practice guides and mitigation strategies to improve information security and risk management right across the Australian health system.”
The health ministers of Australia’s states and territories have endorsed the national eHealth strategy developed by ADHA.
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council on Friday signed off on the strategy, under which the national eHealth record system will shift to an opt-out model.
“By the end of 2018, every Australian will have a My Health Record, unless they choose not to,” states the document, Safe, seamless and secure: evolving health and care to meet the needs of modern Australia.
“By 2022 all healthcare providers will be able to contribute to and use health information in My Health Record on behalf of their patients, providing potentially lifesaving access to reports of their medications, allergies, laboratory tests and chronic conditions, and supporting significant improvements in the safety, quality and efficiency of healthcare for the benefit of individuals, the healthcare system and the economy.”
“Patients and consumers will be able to access their health information at any time online and through mobile apps,” the document says.
The shift to an opt-out model follows trials conducted in NSW and Queensland.
A report on the trials commissioned by the Department of Health found that the initial opt-in approach for My Health Record was “unsustainable”. The report argued that an “opt-out approach to increase both individual and healthcare provider participation and use is the preferred option”.
“Australians are right to be proud of their health services - they are among the best, most accessible, and efficient in the world,” said ADHA CEO Tim Kelsey.
“Today we face new health challenges and rapidly rising demand for services. It is imperative that we work together to harness the power of technology and foster innovation to support high quality, sustainable health and care for all, today and into the future.”
The strategy has received support from the Australian Medical Association (AMA), the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA).
The Consumers Health Forum (CHF), Medical Software Industry Association (MSIA) and the Health Informatics Society of Australia (HISA) also indicated support.
This year’s federal budget set aside $374.2 million over two years for the expansion of My Health Record as it shifts to opt-out.
The system may be re-platformed to use cloud infrastructure and open source software. ADHA is currently preparing for a pilot involving the use of the eHealth records in hospital emergency departments.