Laws passed to put Australian health records on-line The Australian government has passed legislation that will allow for an opt-out trial of a new national eHealth record system. Under the new legislation the existing "personally controlled electronic health record" ("PCEHR") system will be replaced with the "My Health Record" system. The change is a response to a 2013 review of the existing PCEHR system, which indicated that a change in approach was needed for various identified issues concerning access to and the sharing of electronic information to be addressed. The PCEHR is an electronic summary of an individual's health records, and the system allows for individuals and healthcare providers to access their key health information online. Currently, individuals must proactively register for the PCEHR system before their medical records will be uploaded to the system. However, under the My Health Record system, health authorities will be allowed to automatically set up online accounts for selected participants by drawing names, addresses and health identification numbers from the Medicare database. This raised numerous concerns over privacy issues, with a joint committee on human rights questioning whether an opt-out process was a justifiable limit of privacy for individuals. However, the trials are now set to be conducted in 2016 covering around 1 million individuals. If the trials prove successful the model will be implemented Australia-wide and a digital health record will be created by default for every Australian. In addition to the implementation of the My Health Record system, the new laws also expand the mandatory reporting regime for information security breaches to healthcare provider organisations and registered contracted service operators. New criminal and civil penalties have also been introduced where information collected for the purposes of the My Health Record system is unlawfully disclosed. For more information, please contact Anne-Marie Allgrove, Toby Patten, Matthew Dempsey or Emma Burn.
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Laws passed to put Australian health records on-line
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