Australians will have a three month period starting from mid-July to opt out of having a My Health Record created for them.
The government late yesterday announced the opt-out period, which will run from 16 July to 15 October.
Once a My Health Record is created it will not be deleted. Instead it will be made “unavailable” in the system with health providers unable to access it, the Department of Health revealed last year.
The decision to shift to an opt-out model in order to boost uptake of the eHealth record followed trials in Queensland and New South Wales. Those trials were staged in the wake of a 2013 review of the system – originally named the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) — that concluded the system should shift to an opt-out approach.
The 2017-18 federal budget earmarked $374.2 million over two years for the expansion of the system as it moved away from opt-in.
The move to an opt-out approach has been backed by the COAG Health Council. My Health Record is supported by the Australian Medical Association, the Royal College of Australian General Practitioners, Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association and the Consumers Health Forum.
Privacy advocates have expressed concern about the opt-out model. Anonymised data based on the eHealth records (and, following a consent process, non-anonymised data) will in some circumstances be made available for research. Individuals will be able to opt-out of so-called 'secondary use' of their data.
“Strict privacy control, set by an individual, is a central feature of My Health Record. Each person can control the information in his or her My Health Record, and the healthcare provider organisations that can have access,” Australian Digital Health Agency CEO Tim Kelsey said in a statement.
“My Health Record provides many benefits to patients, including reduced duplication of tests, better coordination of care for people with chronic and complex conditions, and better informed treatment decisions,” health minister Greg Hunt said.
“I would encourage each and every Australian to use their My Health Record and to speak with their healthcare providers regarding these benefits.”