What is My Health Record?
My Health Record is an online personal health information system that can be accessed by the individual, their representatives and their health providers and their representatives. In certain circumstances there is scope for other people and agencies to access records. Individuals can set controls that limit, but cannot fully control, who has access to their online health information.
Read more on the My Health Record website.
What does it mean to Opt Out?
Every Australian will automatically have a My Health Record created by the government unless you opt out between 16th July and 15th October 2018.
After that time, you can close your My Health Record, but information will not be deleted. It’s unclear if your information can still be accessed in ways you do not want.
Should I Opt Out?
- Read about the potential benefits and risks:
- Check out this guide, designed specifically for mental health consumers by CoMHWA, and endorsed by VMIAC.
- Read information on the My Health Records
- Check out the news: lots of experts are debating My Health Record and giving different views
- If you use social media, follow us to stay up to date:
- If you’re in any doubt, opt out before 15 October.
You can always change your mind later and opt back in. But if you don’t opt out now, some of your records will remain in the system and not be deleted.
How to Opt Out:
Go to the My Health Record website: Opt Out page
You will need to have:
- Your Medicare card or Department of Veteran’s Affairs (DVA) card
- One of the following: your drivers licence, your passport or ImmiCard
If you don’t have these records you will need to call their Helpline: 1800 723 471
Why is VMIAC concerned?
My Health Record involves personal benefits and risks.
Having online personal health records may be very helpful, even life-saving, for some people. But it has risks too. We believe the risks may be greater for mental health consumers.
Mental health consumers already experience much greater discrimination, privacy breaches, violence and control by others, and it’s important that My Health Record has more benefits than risks.
Mental health consumers typically have very poor physical health and we die, on average, 20 years younger than most other Australians. My Health Record may increase the risk of discrimination and health inequalities for us.
In part this is because some healthcare professionals only focus on mental health problems and fail to address our physical health rights and needs. This is so common there is even a term for it: ‘diagnostic overshadowing’.
Many consumers don’t access the internet, and there is no provision for how these people will be able to manage or access their health records.
There many ways that your privacy could be breached through My Health Record. Law enforcement agencies, courts, and other agencies may apply to access your records. It is not clear if your records could be accessed by agencies like Centrelink or the NDIA.
Child abuse and family violence
The majority of people who use public clinical mental
health services have a history of trauma, including family violence and child abuse.
We are particularly concerned about the impact of My Health Record for people living with family violence or child abuse, and the potential for abusers to gain access or control to health records.
Someone else controlling your records
My Health Records can appoint a different person to access and control your health record, if you are deemed ‘not capable of making decisions’.
As consumers, many of us already have to endure forced treatment when health services decide we’re not capable of making our own decisions. Now, My Health Record could mean that other people control our personal records as well. This can result in serious human rights issues and is open to potential abuse.
VMIAC will continue to keep a close eye on this issue, and keep consumers informed.