Twitter reactions: Should you opt in or opt out of My Health Record?

Debate over the benefits and risks of My Health Record is raging on social media as the deadline to opt out looms. Some Australians have security concerns, while others argue the national digital system could reduce medical errors and save lives.
Twitter reactions to My Health Record
Source: chainarong06 (Shutterstock)

From Friday, a digital record of your medical history will be automatically created unless you choose to opt out.

The opt-out deadline was originally in November, however Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt extended it to the end of January, after many people reported having trouble accessing the website and getting through to the telephone helpline to opt out.

Soon after the deadline was extended, the Australian Parliament passed new privacy laws to strengthen privacy and security protections, including allowing Australians to permanently delete their My Health Record at any time in their life and strengthening protection of domestic violence victims’ details.

The laws also prohibit insurers or employers from accessing people’s digital medical history and introduced stricter protocols around law enforcement and government agencies’ access to My Health Record.

According to the federal government’s Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA), there are many safeguards in place to protect people’s private medical records, including encryption, firewalls, secure login processes and audit logging.

Privacy experts have raised concerns about the system’s security, while many health experts support having an Australia-wide digital medical network that they say could reduce medical errors and save lives.

Many health experts, legal groups, industry groups, privacy experts and everyday Aussies have taken to Twitter to express differing opinions about the national online medical database.

Below is a snapshot of what they are saying.

Those in favour of opting in

Primary Health Tasmania, a not-for-profit group that is part an Australian Government program designed to improve medical services for patients, says there are many benefits for people to have their medical records in one place with My Health Record.

The peak body for families and people living with dementia, Dementia Australia, also backs My Health Record because of its potential to support people living with brain disorders and their carers, including removing the need for patients to have to repeat their health history each time they visit a healthcare professional.

One Twitter user said he felt the benefit of not having to go through his health history every time he sees a medical professional far outweighed any privacy concerns.

Those in favour of opting out

The majority of Australians who say they are opting out, cite security concerns and fears of having their information hacked.

Privacy advocate Future Wise shared on Twitter an article about the recent data leak in Singapore of more than 14,000 people diagnosed with HIV.

People have also tweeted about feeling confused around whether they can opt out after the deadline and what will happen to their medical record once it’s on the system.

According to the new privacy laws, while your medical record will be automatically created if you don’t opt out before Friday, you can still choose to permanently delete your My Health Record account at any time after the deadline.

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