Government forced to extend My Health Record opt-out date

Health minister again bows to pressure on controversial medical records site.

my health

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has capitulated and extended the deadline to opt out of the My Health Record (MHR) database until 31 January next year.

The about-face came as the latest deadline loomed with users complaining that the site was crashing before they could complete the opt-out process.

There have also been complaints that the phone lines which could also be used to opt out were down.

The deadline had been extended from 15 October to 3am (AEDT) tomorrow after widespread criticism of the controversial site’s ability to safeguard Australians’ sensitive medical records from hackers.

Every Australian with a Medicare card will automatically be given a digital record containing their medical history unless they opt out before the January deadline.

Yesterday’s turmoil was brushed aside by the agency handling the MHR scheme, according to the ABC.

“We are experiencing high demand, which has slowed the system down, and some people have experienced difficulties opting out this morning,” an Australian Digital Health Agency spokesperson said in a statement.

“These issues have now been resolved. The agency anticipated higher call volumes and has increased the number of helpline operators available to support callers.”

Meanwhile, Mr Hunt said yesterday the Government's focus was on strengthening the safety and privacy of health information in the system.

“The Parliament is now considering further amendments to Labor's original My Health Record legislation,” he said.

Labor health spokeswoman Catherine King still has concerns about data security and privacy and wants the Government to extend the opt-out deadline for 12 months, the ABC reported.

“Let's get this right, we think this is an important reform, it was a reform started by Labor but we think you need to take the time to get this right,” she said.

“We have been forced into the position today in the Senate of trying to extend the opt-out period again because the Government is just not listening.”

To join the more than 1.1 million Australians who have already opted out, visit  this government website link.

Have you already opted out, and if so why? Are you happy to have all your medical records stored in one place by the Government? 



    To make a comment, please register or login
    15th Nov 2018
    People reporting our concerns seem to have got our concerns wrong.
    It is not about the hackers - the system is reasonably safe (as far as any online DB can be).
    The weakest link is the end user. Incorrect or incomplete data, and too many people with access to the information.

    Any child that is on the system will have no medical privacy ever.
    That in itself may deter teenagers seeking medical attention for fear of being "found out" by their parents. Let's step back to the 80s and bring back STDs, unwanted pregnancies and AIDS.

    No one should have access to your records.They should only be made available with an access code that is sent to your phone when the doctor needs to access the information.

    There needs to be fields in the records that allow patients to write comments about the drugs taken or not taken with comments on adverse reactions and conclusions to dr diagnoses which may have been incorrect.
    The system is so flawed at the moment it resembles swiss cheese. It needs more than a 3 month delay.

    Who is going to be fix and test the software over the Xmas holidays??

    15th Nov 2018
    The the government has to extend the deadline because of massive connection failures. What else could one expect from these incompetent Lieberal nincompoops?
    15th Nov 2018
    This is a Labor initiative.
    It was supposed to be Opt In however I don't see the Labor Party making a fuss about the integrity of the data, the number of people accessing the data, or the privacy of our children and spouses.
    The trouble with bipartisan agreement is no one is holding the software programmers to account for their flawed system.
    15th Nov 2018
    Could people opt out before yesterday, or were people informed to leave it until the last day, which would quite likely over load the system?
    15th Nov 2018
    Jim - I don't think a lot of people know.
    They only started advertising on TV a week or so before Nov 15th in our area and it was predominantly a pro ad.
    Even when I opted out months ago it took several attempts to finally get opted out.
    15th Nov 2018
    There seems to be a lot of fear mongering going on regarding people’s information getting hacked, this fear mongering is being spread by the opposition and the greens to discredit everything the government tries to do, that’s the job of the opposition anyone who disputes that musn’t follow politics very closely, it’s also being attacked by media, so where is the information coming from, the media are telling us that, your information can be accessed by just about anyone that wants to access your information for possibly nefarious activities, of course the only people that can access your information are people that are authorised to do so, the police need a court order to access your info so they are not included, insurance companies cannot access you info, employers cannot access your information, in fact outside of the medical industry no one can access your info, that’s of course legally, anything that is on a computer can obviously be hacked into and all of the info can then be sold on illegally to anyone that wants to get hold of that information, the penalties for accessing anyone’s information should be high enough to disuede anyone from risking their freedom to get hold of your health information. In this modern world all of your information is available to anyone that has a need for that information at a price that they are prepared to pay. In my case I can’t think of any information of mine that would be of the slightest interest to anyone, so as I see it the decision to stay in causes me no concern, anyone who thinks their information could cause them a problem should opt out, keeping in mind any information you have ever shared in the past is available to anyone who is prepared to pay for it, I guess my concern would be if you end up in hospital and need urgent attention the treatment you receive could well be detrimental to your health if the staff don’t have your information, it’s an easy choice for me.
    15th Nov 2018
    The privacy issue is less about the system being hacked (although that is a concern especially after the events in Singapore earlier this year) and more about access to the information. Over the last 7 years since this system was introduced first as a test project with a few targeted GPs, then as an opt in system (the GPs didn't over privacy concerns for their patients) and then finally as the current opt out to force people onto the system.
    Over this time period there have been applications for access to the date from a wide range of other Government departments, sundry researchers, security agents including police and INSURANCE companies! And for me personally it is this 'threat' from insurance companies that is one of the main reasons I opted out as soon as we were told we could back in September.

    The other is that although you supposedly can decide who sees what and also say what gets uploaded and what doesn't, it means you will need a medical degree to decipher all the jargon e.g. test results and reports, but you will also have to remember to tell the heath related person (including your pharmacist, physio as well as any medical person you interact with) on EVERY occasion whether they can upload or not.
    15th Nov 2018
    I don’t have a problem with anyone opting out, I guess my main point should read, that no matter whether you opt in or out any information about you that has ever been put on a computer is available to anyone that has the resources to hack into a computer system, and it’s already been shown in the past that some 14 year olds have hacked into the pentagon so I don’t know how secure any information is, but I suspect it’s not very safe. It’s the world we live in now and we seem to contribute to it by giving all sorts of information to any source, including the site we are on now.
    15th Nov 2018
    KSS - I'm eager to learn, what could the insurance company do with your information.
    15th Nov 2018
    Greg they have assured us the information will not be shared with insurers however I think we all know that with nigh on 1,000,000 people having access insurers will have no trouble getting access.
    What will change is the information being given to researchers to make statistical assumptions which are already being fed to the media.
    Insurers will make risk decisions on this data and compare it to personal data and then set premiums and caps on medical cover to match their findings.
    They do it already.

    Medical data is the most powerful information that can be held on an individual or community. Jim talks of fear mongering. I talk of slack software management and breach of privacy laws, inaccuracies, lacking currency and open end user access.

    The system has merit. However, not in its current format and most definitely not as a family record. I am allowed to create my own bank account. Why can't I have my own health care record? I know why - they want to make genetic links.
    16th Nov 2018
    Currently Greg, if an insurance company want's any health information about you they MUST go through your GP or the medical practitioner that treated you for that particular event (perhaps an injury on holiday, trauma of a car crash, etc etc etc) they are NOT entitled to view any other medical data that does not directly affect the claim you are making. Even now they deliberately request medical information that is so broad and non=specific, in the hope of obtaining other information that could be used to avoid paying the claim and it is only the vigilance of the medical practitioner that stops this fishing expedition.

    Now consider My Health record. A simple click would allow them to see your entire medical history, the fact that you sought mental heath services 15 years ago, or that you went through rehabilitation for drug or alcohol misuse, or you have had an other medical episode they could use as a reason not to allow your claim. Don't think it can happen? Think again. It already does just not a easily.
    16th Nov 2018
    Rosret and KSS - when you apply for insurance you are supposed to inform the insurance company of all prior health problems aren't you, by not telling them you are withholding information. Also if you do make a claim and you haven't told them about something obviously they could deny the claim.

    Still don't see how that's a problem.
    15th Nov 2018
    I opted out, my reason is because I want to be asked first if I want to opt in, which is what they should have done in the first place. I don't trust that the data won't be used for someones benefit, and it won't be mine, because I never go to a doctor.
    Old Geezer
    15th Nov 2018
    I am staying in so I can control it and get rid of all the rubbish they put on it. Who knows what goes on it if you opt out as you will still have one no matter what they tell you.
    15th Nov 2018
    And how do you know this OG?
    Old Geezer
    15th Nov 2018
    Because I don't trust them.
    15th Nov 2018
    Me either, but I have not been to a doctor for years so they know nothing, they could not cure me so I cured myself. I could count on one hand how many times I have been to a doctor.
    15th Nov 2018
    It is my concern as well. You can't see if your own record has in fact been deleted.
    The Pathology default is automatically set to upload to the database.

    When I phoned the Myhealthrecord line they said I could check with the doctor when I next visited to ensure there was nothing in my records.

    I just had a friend who has been treated for reflux for the last 3 years. Next week he is going in for emergency heart surgery because he went to a different doctor and it wasn't reflux at all.
    So what would be on his record? Reflux.
    16th Nov 2018
    Actually as things stand now if a record has been created, you cannot delete it. All you can do it hide it from view. The information is still there but most will not be able to see it. However, given the data is not in fact erased, it is still there and can still be accessed.
    16th Nov 2018
    This is an interesting read from a lady trying to amend her Myhealthrecord.
    17th Nov 2018
    Meh....just identifying her, they would have other ways to I/D her, that's a staff training issue, and the record would eventually get altered, no big deal.

    Some people get all caught up in the hysteria and media hype - who cares who sees your medical information, it's there to help you in the future if need be. If someone wants to know I've had depression/anxiety issues and an ingrown toe nail removed, great, hope they enjoy reading about it.
    eggs and co
    16th Nov 2018
    A short tale of trouble about opting out. My mother-in-law (mil) who is in her 90's has lived with my wife and me now for several years and as she becomes more frail physically but not mentally, we assist by driving her to doctors and other appointments plus as she is extremely deaf and has interesting hearing conversations despite the assistance of modern technology, we often suss out what she wants done on the telephone and with her compliance conduct the necessary functions of modern life on the phone for her. Ditto for anything on-line. Earlier this week mil decided to opt-out of "My Health Record" until the system is brought up to scratch and then she will opt back in as she can see the benefits that will be there when the system is operating properly, not the current shambles. The rest of this tribe will be doing the same. Wife went on-line for mil to opt-out. Not possible as system was intermittently down and then when system was up, found out that mil requires a "My Gov" log-in, which she does not yet have and will need to attend a CentreLink Office to acquire with the necessary documentation. Ah-Ah, I hear you say, try the phone ! Good idea ! Not ! When my wife eventually got through on the phone, the pleasant person on the other end asked for mil's "My Gov" log-in details ! Ah, no "My-Gov", that is easy to fix. Can I have a "current" drivers licence number please. Mil handed in her drivers licence a year ago but has a Photo Identity Card from RMS ( N.S.W. ). Sorry, this is not sufficient proof. Next, a current bill from a service provider, electricity bill for example. Whoops, mil does not have anything like that as everything to do with this property is in mine or my wife's name. Try again, what about a Centrelink age pension number ! Whoops, she has a DVA pension ! Sorry, this is not an acceptable means of identification ! Conversation terminated as there were no other means of identification possible. We now face the prospect of having a similar conversation in a CentreLink Office to get a "My Gov" record for mil in the coming weeks. This problem as I see it is not restricted to the elderly but also to those 14 and up who do not have the necessary documentation, "current" drivers licence, bill from a service provider, etc. The moral of this story is for those that have breathed a "sigh of relief" that they have until 31st January 2019 to opt-out from "My Health" will not realise the "hoops" that they will need to jump through and have a similar experience of frustration if they leave it until close to the 31 Jan 2019 deadline !

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