Mixed opinions on My Health implications

Posted 1 year ago by Nicole Pope

​A My Health Record will be automatically generated by October 15, 2018, however, debates are running rife amongst the disability community [Source: Shutterstock]
​A My Health Record will be automatically generated by October 15, 2018, however, debates are running rife amongst the disability community [Source: Shutterstock]

The recent buzz around My Health Record as a one-stop-shop for the medical histories of all Australians has been met with mixed opinions by disability advocates.

A My Health Record will be automatically generated for those who choose to not ‘opt out’ by October 15, 2018, however, debates are running rife amongst the disability community.

Advocacy group, Council for Intellectual Disability is calling on the My Health Record agency to make its website more accessible for intellectual disability, including an easy to read fact sheet about My Health Record.

Whilst, Vision Australia has claimed vision impaired Australians are unable to ‘opt out’ online because the website has failed to meet accessibility requirements for screen readers, is riddled with technical glitches and ‘times out’ too quickly, with no option to extend the webpage session.

Vision Australia’s Manager of Digital Access, Neil King noticed the errors when he tried to opt out himself.

“I personally don’t want to opt out, however, I went to see if I could and couldn’t get to the end of the process,” he says.

“Everyone that I’ve spoken to that has had these same issues, say that they want the same access as everybody else.”

Privacy concerns are also being heard, with the very real potential for security breaches and misuse of incredibly sensitive information.

National mental health bodies, Consumers of Mental Health WA, the Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council and the NSW peak organisation Being, have joined the conversation by raising concerns about the risk of privacy breaches and family violence abusers in accessing the health information of their victims.

Consumers of Mental Health WA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Shauna Gaebler is concerned the My Health Record could cause harm to young people with mental health conditions if their medical data was to fall into unwanted hands.

“For mum or dad to see their most private health information could have catastrophic effects. We fear young people will stop seeking help as they don’t want mum or dad to know,” she says.

CEO of Being, Irene Gallagher says, “My Health Record increases the risk of privacy breachers already faced by consumers in health services, particularly when there's violence and abuse within families.”

“My Health Record makes it too easy for potential abusers to access health records, or even change them, if the person is deemed to ‘lack capacity’,” she says.

Australians also took to Twitter to express their concerns, using the hashtag #OptOut to share their experiences upon exiting the scheme.

Dr Chris Garland says even as a health professional he is concerned private health records will be accessed by unauthorised agencies for their own benefit.

“I work as a GP for a rural Aboriginal Medical Service. I expect few, if any, of my patients will want Centrelink, the ATO and law enforcement accessing their medical records. I also worry that some will struggle to opt out even if they want to.”

Adding to the already increased difficulties of ‘opting out’, the process also requires a Medicare or Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) card, alongside a driver's license, passport or ImmiCard, items often people with disability are unable to provide.

Tracey Withhope asks, “What does a person(s) do if they don’t have a driver’s license or passport? I know lots of people with disability that don’t have either.”

Approximately 20,000 Australians took action against having their medical histories on My Health Record on its first day.

On August 1, Federal Minister of Health Greg Hunt announced an amendment to the My Health Record legislation to ensure no records can be released to police or Government agencies, for any purpose without a court order.

He also agreed to consider extending the opt pot period by a month.

For more information on My Health Record click here.

For more information on disability support and services, please visit https://www.disabilitysupportguide.com.au/?utm_source=eNewsText

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