DECISION TIME: Many doctors want people to allow the creation of MyHealth records to help them deliver better treatment to patients.
DECISION TIME: Many doctors want people to allow the creation of MyHealth records to help them deliver better treatment to patients. Nomad

MyHealth: patients need to weigh up pros and cons of system

MANY health experts in the Clarence Valley would like to encourage their patients to allow their My Health Records to become part of an online summary of their health information, but are too nervous to go public with the advice.

This week, the Federal Government announced its opt-out deadline for the My Health Record system which has been in operation since 2016.

But the prospect of establishing a centralised database of health records of all Australians has alarmed privacy advocates and citizens worried their records could end up in the wrong hands.

The Daily Examiner contacted some of the region's medical centres for their views on whether people should allow their health records to become part of the database or to opt out.

It found practice managers happy to talk about the issue, but reluctant to go on the record.

"The positives of putting their records online are apparent now,” said a practice manager.

"The negatives of the fear of people somehow getting access to their data and doing something bad with it are possible things that might happen in the future.”

One practice manager said most of the doctors at that clinic favoured opting in to MyHealth because they could access vital information quickly.

"There are so many positives for patients if a doctor can look up a patient's medical history quickly,” one said.

"There are so many stories around of how it's taken weeks for patients' records to move from one doctor to another, which can have a major impact on their treatment.”

But the public perception of data storage, including the recent revelations about how Facebook collects and uses data, has made medical practices nervous about deciding one way or the other.

"We appreciate why patients might be nervous about putting their records into a database that could be hacked and their records sold off,” said one manager. "People need to weigh up if those concerns outweigh the benefits.”

How to opt out

  • If you don't have a My Health Record and don't want one created for you, you will need to opt out between now and October 15.
  • Go here to get started. You will need to verify your identity, and provide personal details such as your name and date of birth.
  • You don't need a myGov account to complete the opt-out process.
  • If you complete the opt-out process online, you have the option to receive an email confirmation. Remember to check your SPAM or junk folder if you do not see the message in your inbox.
  • If you don't opt out, your My Health Record will be available from November 13. If you want a record before then you can register now.