Lawyer warns to check your medical privacy rights
Privacy lawyer Travis Schultz has warned that people concerned about protecting their medical privacy have less than a month left to opt out of the My Health Record (MHR) system.
The principal of Travis Schultz Law said if individuals did not explicitly remove themselves from the MHR system by 15 November, the federal government would create and store a digital copy of your medical record and make it available to numerous health care providers.
“MHR disregards global best practice for informed consent, because it requires people to opt out of the system rather than asking for express consent to use your personal information,” Mr Schultz said.
“Many Australians are not fully informed of how their My Health Record information will be used, nor are they aware of the potential data security risks that come from data sharing and storing digital records online.”
MHR will not only allow doctors but pharmacists, nurses and allied health professionals to view an individual’s medical information. There is no mechanism in place to track which individuals are accessing the records, only information on the institution they are from.
“This means you won’t be able to tell who has seen your personal information. For example, you could have a podiatrist or a physiotherapist viewing sensitive information about your mental or sexual health,” Mr Schultz said.
Another concern is the risk of data security breaches from storing information online. Not only are health records prized by hackers as a means of identity theft, but MHR also permits external health apps to access your records.
“While this information can only be provided to third parties with your consent, there is a risk that you could sign a confusing standard form contract and unwittingly be giving the app owner permission to on-sell your medical information.”
Mr Schultz suggests that people should visit the My Health Record website to better understand how the government will manage and share your information, or to opt out of having a record created. As of 12 September, more than 900,000 people or three per cent of Australians have opted out of the system.
“I’m encouraging everyone to ensure they are well informed about the benefits and risks of having a My Health Record, and what steps you can take to protect your privacy. Once 15 November comes around, if you haven’t opted out, you will automatically have been deemed to have given your consent for digital My Health Record,” he said.
Mr Schultz recommends the seeking of professional advice from a privacy law expert if you’re unsure of what to do.