Why did thousands of people opt out of e-health records in Australia?

Why did thousands of people opt out of e-health records in Australia?

Healthcare Tech Outlook | Friday, November 30, 2018

In a recent event in Australia, around 20,000 people opted out of the electronic health system on the first day itself. With almost six million people in My Health Record, the six year old Australian e-health record initiative, the event was nothing but an opt-out window from the e-health record service.

At the time of service, the designed website was full of errors, sowing seeds of unrest among people. While people were concerned about unwanted security breaches and cyber-security threats, the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull assured that the issues have been resolved.

Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA), the agency that operates the My Health Record system, fears that owing to latest government norms, numerous law enforcement agencies and officials can access personal health records of individuals and that too, without warrant. A clear violation of the My Health Records Act 2012. A recent tweet by My Health Record stated that whenever there is a requirement by law or court, it will be permissible to law enforcement officials to access through the personal health records of individuals.

Comprising numerous agencies including police, anti-corruption agencies, Immigration Department, or any other government department, the ‘Enforcement Bodies’ has potentially opened the gates for cyber threat attackers to gain access to the personal health record of any individual.

When it comes to health data, it is personal and is ought to be confidential and discrete. With government policies trying to rummage their way through digital medical records on the basis of unpaid fines or even smaller accusations, it is potentially right for individuals to opt out of such an arrangement. What strikes the most is the fact that the law wants to change policies at will and is not letting public review its decision.

Considering the disagreement between ADHA and the government, it was not surprising that thousands of individuals opted out of My Health Records. 

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