Privacy: A Unified Health Service, but at What Cost?

My Health Record is a new scheme by the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) whereby all Australians (unless they opt out) will have a digital profile, where their medical information is kept centrally.


Doctors, hospital and other health providers will be able to login to see your medical history in accordance with access controls. This includes medicines you are taking, allergies you may have and treatments you have received.

“This year, you will get a My Health Record unless you tell us you don’t want one” cites the My Health Record website. After October 15th 2018, every person with a Medicare or Department of Veterans’ Affairs card will automatically be registered to have a My Health Record – unless you opt out.


Better healthcare service.

Currently most records made by healthcare providers are paper based. This means being posted, faxed or insecurely emailed. The My Health Record “offers health professionals secure digital access to a patient’s record at the point of care, wherever that may be” as the ADHA’s website states.

ADHA cites that the biggest benefits are from the clarity of centrally stored information. This would result in:

• Avoided hospital admissions
• Fewer adverse drug events
• Reduced duplication in diagnostic tests
• And better care for people seeing multiple healthcare providers

What does this mean for you and your privacy?


Will the records mean healthcare providers can see my full history?

Not necessarily. As the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) states: “The My Health Record system contains an online summary of a patient’s key health information; not a complete record of their clinical history”.

How will the information be used?

Registered healthcare provider organisations will be able to access, collect use and disclose your health record for the purpose of providing healthcare. They can upload any of your health records and information to the MHR without your express consent.

Can information be taken from the My Health Record?

Information in a patient’s My Health Record can be downloaded onto the healthcare provider’s local IT Server. This means that it leaves the confines of the MHR system and can sit on the servers of your local doctor or physio.

They will then be bound by the normal privacy laws that govern all businesses. However, this then puts the information in their management and depends on them having the proper privacy and data controls to manage that information securely.

“Healthcare provider organisations are authorised to upload information about a third party to a patient’s My Health Record” as the OAIC states. This means that if a healthcare provider believes it’s important to note your family member’s medical history in relation to your own, they can record it on the My Health Record without consent from your family members.

It is up to individuals to manage their MHR and ensure it is current and accurate.  If you don’t choose to opt out during this period and cancel your account later, the government will keep your documents for 30 years after your death.

To opt out, visit the My Health Record Website:

More information from the OAIC: