Friday, 21 April 2017
Every man and his dog may soon have access to your personal medical history if you live in Australia
A federal government digital medical information storage and retrieval system, which will eventually contain information on every person permanently residing in Australia and which was hacked even before it publicly went online, is now going national – and it still has significant privacy problems.
The Daily Telegraph, 10 April 2017:
THE private health records of Australians can be accessed by more than half a million people under the latest bungle with the $2.2 billion electronic My Health Record.
News Corp Australia has learned that the privacy settings on the government’s computerised My Health Record, which lists every medicine a patient takes and records every medical visit and procedure, are automatically set on “universal access”.
This means every registered health practitioner in the nation — 650,000 people — can view them, not just the family GP, unless the patient specifically requested to opt out.
Occupational therapists working for an employer, doctors working for insurance companies, a dietitian, an optometrist or a dentist or their staff can view the record and see if individuals have a sexually transmitted disease, a mental illness, have had an abortion or is using Viagra.
“Potentially your employer’s occupational therapist can look at your record and get information they really shouldn’t be getting access to, its confidential data,” says former AMA president Dr Mukesh Haikerwal who was a government consultant on the My Health Record.
The bungle came about because the record was originally set up as an opt in system and when people set up their record they were given the option to set a PIN number to protect the information and determine who got to see it.
Nearly four million people set up a My Health Record under the opt in system but doctors weren’t using it because four years after it was established 83 per cent of Australians still did not have one.
Last year the Turnbull Government trialled turning the failed record into an opt out system.
One million people in the Nepean Blue Mountains area of NSW and Northern Queensland were given a record unless they opted out.
News Corp has now learned only 147 of these one million Australians automatically given a record under the trial set up a PIN number to protect their health information.
“147 My Health Records created in the trials have access controls set to restrict which healthcare providers can see the record, or have controls restricting access to certain documents in the record,” the Department said.
“This equates to 0.0151 per cent of My Health Records automatically created in the trials. This is consistent with the rates of access controls set by those who have opted to register for a My Health Record,” a spokeswoman for the department said.
The My Health Record lists a person’s medications and allergies, doctors can upload a health summary about the person’s health problems, eventually the system will include X-ray results, pathology results, hospital discharge summaries and other data that for the first time can be shared between medical practitioners.
The privacy problem is about to affect everyone because two weeks ago state and federal health ministers agreed to give every Australian a My Health Record unless they opt out.
This decision was made even though the results of the original opt out trial have never been made public.
And it means the health records of every Australian will soon be on open access.
The Australian, 27 March 2017:
Companies bidding for the Medicare digital payments system have been given the option of proposing a new identity card to protect against fraud and improve system capabilities.
As the federal government pushes ahead with electronic health records, in anticipation of a digital health revolution, The Australian has learned the Department of Health has made identity management a key part of the new payments system and left it open to companies to propose alternatives.
Companies may suggest alternatives to the green Medicare card — which holds no data, just a magnetic strip and numbers for individuals whose information is stored in a database — and forms of identity for veterans’ affairs, aged care and related payments.
It would be the biggest shift since the Howard government proposed the Australian Access Card, a broad-function smartcard that attracted privacy concerns and comparisons to the ill-fated Australia Card of the 1980s and was dumped by the incoming Rudd government.
A departmental spokeswoman emphasised that there was no proposal for a new identity card under moves to develop a new digital payments system.
“While the Department of Health has not been prescriptive, the presumption is that the Medicare card and number will continue to be the basis for identification,” she said.
The option for a new identity management solution came after health ministers decided on Friday that the My Health Record system would be opt-out, making electronic medical records compulsory for all Australians unless they said otherwise, despite trials of that model having yet to report.
Australian Doctor, 27 March 2017:
Australian health ministers have officially agreed to a national opt-out model under which every patient will have a MyHealth Record created for them by default.
Yet precisely when the model will be rolled out remains to be seen.
Federal, state and territory health ministers met in Melbourne on Friday, where, according to a communique, they agreed "to a national opt-out model for long-term participation arrangements" in the My Health Record system.
The agreement precedes the release of findings from two pilot trials of opt-out enrolment systems, in North Queensland and NSW's Blue Mountains, which included nearly one million patients.
A little history…….
News.com.au, 11 September 2016:
THE man who led the dumped UK digital health record system has been put in charge of Australia’s bungled $1 billion e-health record and is being paid as much as the Prime Minister to fix it.
Former journalist Tim Kelsey will be paid a total remuneration package worth $522,240 a year, almost the same as Malcolm Turnbull and just shy of the $548,360 paid to the Chief of the Navy and more than the Chief Scientist, the head of the Fair Work Commission and the Inspector General of Taxation, a remuneration tribunal determination reveals.
The former NHS executive is an interesting appointment as CEO of the Australian Digital Health Agency because he was in charge of the UK digital health records scheme Care.data dumped by the UK’s National Health System in July.
The Department of Health stated that Mr Kelsey is uniquely suited to the role because of his experience with data and digital platforms in health and personal privacy.
The Care.data scheme to store patients’ medical information in a single database suffered multiple delays and was then scrapped after major problems emerged over patient confidentiality.
It was similar to Australia’s My Health Record that Mr Kelsey will now oversee.