Alliance CEO Mark Diamond says last night's announcement to amend My Health Record legislation addresses growing concerns about who can access information contained in a person's online health summary, and under what circumstance.
"After constructive discussions with the AMA and RACGP, the Government will strengthen privacy provisions under the My Health Record Act, removing any doubt regarding Labor's 2012 legislation", he said in a statement.
Royal Australian College of General practitioners president Dr Harry Nespolon cancelled his own My Health Record over privacy concerns and also demanded the legislation be changed to require a court order before police could see the record.
In fact, only mere days after Singapore's government suffered a health data attack on its SingHealth system, the government's My Health Record webpage was updated nearly with a form of bait for hackers, stating that "There has never been a security breach of the My Health Record" on a system that has only been publicly accessible for weeks, and that "It is not susceptible to attacks like SingHealth", a statement that makes you wonder how many will try, if only to prove the government wrong.
A NEWS Corp investigation can reveal there has already been nine data breaches involving the Federal Government's My Health Record system.
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The Australian Digital Health Agency, which operates the My Health Record system, has previously said that as a matter of policy it will not release eHealth records without a warrant - however, the legislation imposes no such requirement.
"My Health Record always promised compelling health benefits, especially for people living in rural and remote areas".
Catherine King, Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare, criticised the government's response, labelling My Health Record a "fiasco" and called for the rollout of MHR to be suspended.
Mr Hunt insisted the reputation of the system hadn't been damaged after thousands of Australians opted out of My Health Record when given the chance.
The My Health Record Act will be brought into line with the existing Australian Digital Health Agency policy.
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"Don't be fooled by the Minister's backdown on a couple of aspects of the #MyHealthRecord privacy concerns, there are bigger problems remaining".
"When a patient steps into the office of one of our Global Positioning System, we want them to know that their health information is private and protected", said RACGP president-elect Dr Harry Nespolon.
Hunt also announced that "delete" will mean what it says: if someone wants their MyHealth Record expunged, it will be, rather than being retained until 30 years after they're dead.
These changes address the principle concerns I had with MyHealth & should rebuild patient and health practitioner confidence by putting medical privacy at the fore of Australia's MyHealth system.
Tony Bartone, president of the AMA, said "after the assurances we received last night and the commitment to strengthen the legislation, we can now move forward and have certainty around the protections to the privacy of those records that our patients expect".
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News Corp has also been contacted by people frustrated they can't opt out of the My Health Record using a paper form.