My Health Record Pros And Cons

Over the last 5 years, the government has implemented and developed a universal patient health record to improve health outcomes for all patients – particularly those with chronic conditions.  Having a My Health Record gives authorised healthcare providers immediate access to a patient’s current medical history. This means in a medical emergency, patients don’t need to worry about remembering important health history like medications, chronic condition/s and recent test results – these can be viewed securely online, anywhere, any time.   Patients can control who can see their records and what information is uploaded.

After 5 years, approximately 23% of the population has registered for a My Health Record which means that the system is not yet being fully utilised by patients and health professionals.  In a predicted move, the government will automatically create a My Health Record for all Australians with a Medicare card or DVA card by the end of 2018.  Australians will have a 3 month period in which they can opt out of a My Health Record being created for them. The opt out period will run between 16th July and 15th October 2018.  Patients can opt out online and by phone, with special assistance provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, people from non-English speaking backgrounds, people with limited digital literacy and those living in rural and remote regions.  For more information on how to opt out please click here.

To help our patients decide if they would like to opt out of a My Health Record, we have put together some information about what will happen when a My health Record is created and a list of what we believe the pros and cons of the My Health system to be.

Below, as stated in the recent government media release regarding the My Health Record Opt Out Date (click here for the complete document), outlines what will happen once patients’ My Health Records are created.

“The new records will be activated when individuals login for the first time or when healthcare providers access records in treating their patients. Two years of Medicare and PBS data will be uploaded, unless an individual chooses not to include this information.

Individuals will also be able to upload personal notes, advanced care documentation and medication and allergy information. Authorised healthcare providers using approved clinical information software will also upload health information on allergies, medical conditions and treatments, medicine details and test results.

Individuals will be able to ask their healthcare provider not to add specific test reports and other medical information to their My Health Record. Individuals can also restrict access to specific information in their record by applying a Limited Access Code to that that specific document – or by applying a Personal Access Code to the entire record.”

Pros and Cons of My Health
PROS CONS
Your significant medical history, medications, vaccinations, allergies and pathology will be accessible in an emergency. Having the public health records online may present a single target for hackers.
Medical errors are reduced as doctors will have more information with which to treat patients. Doctors need to upload a shared health summary every time a patient has a medication change, vaccination or significant change to their health.
Vaccine rates will improve – and there will be a decrease in unnecessary vaccines being given. Not all medical practices are registered with My Health.
A more sustainable health system will be created by reducing duplicate imaging, pathology testing and hospital admissions – with less time searching for health information. Many doctors are not trained on how to navigate the My Health system.
Patient time in emergency will be reduced as doctors will have quicker access to patient information. Hospitals are still not fully utilising My Health Records.
Patients will be able to visit another practice and the doctor treating them will be able to see their current medical history to make more informed treatment plans, improving health outcomes for patients. There are concerns that other government departments and 3rd parties, including insurance companies, will eventually have access to health information.
Patients with chronic conditions will receive better care in emergencies’, reducing lengthy hospital admissions. The system is not user friendly for patients or health professionals.
Pharmacists can view key patient information, allergies, hospital discharge summaries as well as imaging and pathology results which will reduce medication errors. There are concerns that legislation surrounding My Health Records, including protecting patients’ privacy, can be changed at any time.
Patients have greater access to and ownership of their health records than previously. Patients need to understand how to access their records and how they can control their record.  To do this requires a certain level of literacy and IT skills.
Patients can set up alerts when certain information is uploaded into their record. Patients can remove certain information which may impact clinical decision making.
The Digital Health Cyber Security Centre continually monitors the system for evidence of unauthorised access. Patients need assurance that the security systems in place are world class and are constantly being updated.
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) regulates the handling of personal information under the My Health Record system. Once a My Health Record has been created, if a patient decides to opt out, that record continues to exist for 30 years after death.
Secondary use of de-identified data may be developed, after 2020, to help track health trends and lead to better health outcomes for communities. A framework for secondary use of data is yet to be developed and there are concerns that information could be given to 3rd parties.