The opt-out period for My Health Record will expire on November 15.
Those who do not opt out will automatically have a digital record created for them on a national data base accessible by health professionals including GPs, specialists and pharmacists.
While various health experts say the database could save lives, many Australians have fears about the security of data while others believe the system should have remained as opt-in.
Australian Patients Association executive director strategy, Michael Riley, said it was important that patients and their families did not get caught up in the emotive arguments being put forward by groups and individuals that were either for or against Australians maintaining their My Health Record.
“We encourage individuals, their families and carers to sit down and discuss the pros and cons of having their medical records stored on the My Health Record as their decision either way has a number of implications,” Mr Riley said.
“The Australian Patients Association supports the use of new technology in improving access to health services and information but patients need to be able to trust it.
“Patients will ultimately judge the success of the digital health strategy on how it eases their use of the health system and improves their health outcomes.
“Any uncovering of privacy data breaches in the future will severely undermine confidence in My Health Record.”
My Health Record snapshot
• Every Australian with a Medicare card will automatically be given a health record unless they tell the agency they do not want one by the November 15, 2018 deadline
• Around 6.1 million Australians currently have a My Health Record, which existed as an opt-in system from 2012 until this year
• My Health Record grants users a number of privacy controls over their medical records, but they are not in place by default. In particular, users can set a code over the complete record or specific documents, limiting access to only those doctors with the pin code.
Some older Australians without computer access have expressed concern at being disadvantaged by their inability to control their My Health Record.
Earlier this year Health Minister Greg Hunt promised to redraft the legislation underpinning My Health Record to ensure that the police and other government agencies would not be able to access patient’s health data without a court order.
Criticism has also been leveled at the requirement for patients of Health Care Homes to have a My Health Record. Health Care Homes are general practices or Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services that coordinate care for patients with chronic and complex conditions.
For more information or to opt-out call 1800-723-471 www.myhealthrecord.gov.au