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 patients 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 – this 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 being 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 January 2019.  Australians will have a period in which they can opt out of a My Health Record being created for them, the opt out period will run between the 16th of July 2018 and the 31st January 2019.  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 or not 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.  The new records will be activated when individuals log in for the first time or when healthcare providers access records in treating their patients.”

Pros and Cons of My Health Record
PROS CONS
Your significant medical history, medications, vaccinations, allergies and pathology will be accessible in an emergency. Having the public’s health records online may present a single target for hackers.
Reduce medical errors as doctors will have more information to treat patients with. 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 as well as decrease vaccines like tetanus being given unnecessarily. Not all medical practices are registered with My Health.
Create a more sustainable health system by reducing duplicate imaging and pathology testing, hospital admissions and less time searching for health information. Many doctors are not trained on how to navigate the My Health system.
Reduce patient time in emergency as doctors will have quicker access to patient information. Some hospitals are still not 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 will eventually have access to health information.  The current legislation is currently under review to ensure this cannot happen without a court order.

Addit 08/01/2019: Legislation has been approved to ensure this cannot happen without a court order

Patients with chronic conditions will receive better care in emergencies’, reducing lengthy hospital admissions. The system is still clunky.
Pharmacists can view key patient information, allergies, hospital discharge summaries as well as imaging and pathology results which will reduce medication errors. Concerns that legislation surrounding My Health Records can be changed at any time.
Patients have greater access to 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 computer literacy.
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 Agency’s 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.
 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 enshrined in legislation and there are concerns that information could be given to 3rd parties.
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) regulates the handling of personal information under the My Health Record system.