Information for educators and families about digital health records

The Australian government is introducing a My Health Record for every Australian by the end of 2018, except for those who tell the government they don’t want one.

LATEST UPDATEMonday 26 November 2018: the Australian Parliament passed legislation today (26 November) to strengthen the privacy and security of the My Health Record legislation, following the government’s recent moves to extend the opt out period until 31 January. The new legislation means that you or your family can opt out of My Health Record at any time in your life. ‘Records will be created for every Australian who wants one’ according to the Australian Digital Health Agency. (Click here to read more in the government’s media release.)  The changes mean you now have until 31 January 2019 to learn more about the government’s digital health record and decide whether or not you wish to opt out (you also still have the chance to opt out and remove your record any time later, if you wish). The opt-out portal and Help line will remain available until 31 January 2019. Click here for details on how to opt out including information on how to opt out on behalf of a child (if you have parental responsibilities for anyone under the age of 18 years). Learn more about legislative changes to address community concerns, below, under the section: Privacy concerns and government response.

On this page

Early Childhood Australia has partnered with the Australian Digital Health Agency (DHA) to provide information for the early childhood education and care sector about the My Health Record Expansion Program, how to use it and the steps to opt out.

On this page you will find links and information to learn more about the My Health Record program, how it affects you individually and in your early childhood role. The links may be useful to pass on to families, carers, staff and colleagues who have questions about the program. Those choosing not to have a digital health record will also find information on opting out of the process. You can also learn more about legislative steps to address the community’s privacy and security concerns including amendments to the My Health Records legislation introduced to Parliament in November 2018.

ECA will continue to add information, case studies and downloadable PDFs to this page. You can find ECA’s media release here.

What is a My Health Record?

My Health Record is an online summary of your key health information.

It will collect and store health information for an individual in one online, secure and easily accessible point. Each person will be able to control access to their own record and can view information about their health any time, from any location. Families and guardians of young children will be able to manage their child’s health information and control which health professionals can access their own and their child’s digitised records.

Learn more about My Health Record here. For information on security and My Health Record click here. Find out essential information on how to control your privacy settings here.

For early childhood education and care professionals

If you are an early childhood education and care provider My Health Record may be helpful in your partnership with families especially at key points such as enrolment, relocations, illnesses and returning after absences. It will also be useful for health practitioners during medical emergencies.

  • Families will be able to add their own details and will have easier access to accurate information for managing their own and their children’s health. This will include information on diagnosis, treatment, vaccination, allergies and other health information.
  • Families will be able to use My Health Record as the basis for discussions to advise and update educators and carers about their child’s health.
  • Doctors, pharmacists and authorised healthcare providers will be able to access My Health Record to assist in treatment, in prescribing medicines and planning the best health interventions.
  • In medical emergencies health care providers connected to the My Health Record System can see a patient’s health information—for instance on allergies, medicines and immunisations—and can respond more effectively. Emergency access is available for a maximum of five days and will show in the record access history.

Digital baby book

The government also announced in Budget 2018 a national digital baby book to replace the state-based paper versions (often known as ‘the blue book’, ‘red book’ or similar, depending on your state or territory), which document children’s development from birth. This means that a child born in 2018 will have a full medical history easily accessed and securely stored. Families will benefit from knowing their child’s developmental, vaccination and other health information is collected in one place to inform conversations with their local maternal child health nurse, their family GP and other professionals. ECA will bring more details as they become available. In the meantime read the government’s information here.

Opting out

What if I don’t want a My Health Record?

Some people will choose not to have a My Health Record.

If you make this choice you can opt out and the government has extended the opt-out period by a month. You now have from 16 July 2018 until 31 January 2019 to tell the government that you do not want a record created. Click hear for details on how to opt out.

If you don’t opt out before 31 January 2019 a record will be created for you anyway and will include two years of your medical records. You can opt out at any time later, if you decide to do so. That’s why it’s important for everyone to understand the options, know how to access their own record, secure their details and enable or restrict access.

Click here for information and steps about opting out.

Why have a My Health Record?

There are flow-on benefits of a My Health record for individuals, families, service providers and the community. Being able to store and quickly locate accurate health information will help families and individuals manage their own health. Improved coordination and information exchanges between  rural health practitioners and their counterparts in town centres and cities will benefit rural, regional and remote communities. Better-coordinated care, especially during emergencies or transitions, such as relocating to another region, state or territory, are among the benefits for individuals and communities of a national digital health record system. Better targeted prescription and treatment options, reduced hospital admissions and reduced duplication of medical tests are other expected overall gains.

If you want to find out more about My Health Record go to www.myhealthrecord.gov.au.

Privacy concerns and government response

In response to public discussion, reviews and inquiries the government extended the opt out period until 31 January 2019. On 26 November the Australian Federal Parliament passed legislation—the My Health Records Amendment (Strengthening Privacy) Act 2018—to strengthen some privacy and security provisions. Briefly the draft legislation was designed to:

  • Explicitly prohibit access to My Health Records by insurers and employers.
  • Provide greater privacy for teenagers 14 years and over.
  • Strengthen existing protections for people at risk of family and domestic violence.
  • Allow Australians to permanently delete their records, and any backups, at any time.
  • Clarify that only the Agency, the Department of Health and the Chief Executive of Medicare (and no other government agency) can access the My Health Record system.
  • Make clear that the system cannot be privatised or used for commercial purposes.
  • Make the principles—contained in the Framework to guide secondary uses of data—law

These changes, according to the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) will be backed up by harsher penalties and fines for inappropriate or unauthorised use. A summary of the changes is available on the Australian Digital Health Agency website. Click here to read the latest media release from ADHA.

You can also view the legislation and the debate via the Australian Parliament House website.

For all information and updates on My Health Record go to www.myhealthrecord.gov.au.

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