My Health Record team visit Springwood to hear how system used in local community

Fears that employers could access the private health data of workers are unfounded, the man in charge of implementing My Health Record in Australia, Tim Kelsey, said in a visit to Springwood today (Friday).

“To be absolutely clear, it’s technically not possible and it’s also illegal for the My Health Record to be used in workplace assessment,” he said. “Certainly no employer has access to My Health Record, full stop.”

The Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) CEO ruled out the possibility after the Sydney Morning Herald reported unions are urging their members to opt out of the system.

Mr Kelsey also said other media reports that DNA data could be stored in My Health Record was “technically impossible, so that’s not true either”.

But he said he welcomed the conversation about privacy concerns over My Health Record.

“The job of the agency is to ensure as far as possible that people are able to make an informed decision about whether they participate. But it is important that those decisions are made with accurate information,” he said.

New data shows 203 healthcare provider organisations are now connected to My Health Record in the Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network. This includes:

  • 100 per cent of public hospitals and health clinics 
  • 100 per cent of private hospitals and clinics 
  • 84 per cent of general practices, and
  • 70 per cent of pharmacies. 

Springwood pharmacist Sheryn Phillips said she has observed many clinical benefits to the system since the Nepean-Blue Mountains region was included in a My Health Record opt out trial in 2016.

“My Health Record is particularly beneficial for people with chronic health conditions on multiple medications and who have multiple healthcare providers,” she said. “Having all their information together in the one place helps to reduce the risk of medical errors, especially if someone has been prescribed multiple medications that could be harmful.” 

While a few patients had voiced privacy concerns, she said these had been allayed when pharmacists had been able to talk directly to them.

“Medical problems seem to crop up at night time or out of hours when you can’t necessarily contact someone, so patients have been quite appreciative when we’ve been able to solve a problem then and there [due to My Health Record],” she said.

ADHA chief medical adviser, Professor Meredith Makeham, and Wentworth Healthcare CEO, Lizz Reay, also took part in the Springwood visit.

The stop-off was part of two day tour of the Blue Mountains-Nepean region to witness firsthand how My Health Record is being used in the community. 

Professor Makeham said having a My Health Record “can save lives in emergency situations, which is why you should consider having one”.

“We know people struggle to remember important details about their own medical history, including what medicines they have been prescribed or when they received medical treatment – My Health Record can do this for you.”

The current expansion of the system means all Australians will have a My Health Record by the end of 2018, unless they choose not to have one.  

People in the Nepean and Blue Mountains region who may no longer want a My Health Record can choose to cancel their record at any time by visiting the My Health Record website or by calling 1800 723 471.

My Health Record is an online summary of a person’s key health information.