The Wrap Special – What is My Health Record?

Injuries would likely be tracked on the system, meaning that back injury could be seen by anyone with access.

Not sure where you stand with the Australian government’s My Health Record? We’ll help you out in five minutes on a special edition of The Wrap.

Transcript

The Australian government is bringing in a new system to help hospitals, doctors, and specialists gain easier access to information about your life, but is it something you should be a part of?

On this special edition of The Wrap, we’ll look at My Health Record. We’ll discuss the pros, the cons, and help you make up your mind, because you only have three months to decide whether My Health Record is right for you.

Launched in July 2018, My Health Record provides a centralised place for your health records to be stored. The system is largely like where your driving details are stored, but instead focuses on health, and health for all Australians.

The information stored in this system will be used by medical practitioners to find information about your life when it’s needed. If you’re involved in an accident and your blood type is needed, it will store that. If you’re allergic to penicillin, it would store that.

Essentially, My Health Record is a place that will store the information necessary for keeping you alive and for keeping you well, providing a history for practitioners to source what they need when they need it.

Doctors, health experts, and the government is understandably talking up the the positive side, but like all things, there’s a negative one, too, and it’s one that makes My Health Record far from perfect.

Remember that this data has to be stored somewhere. It’s being stored somewhere by the government, and it’s being stored by a government that you may not trust and may not be as good at data security as you had hoped.

There have been times where the government has failed at technology, sometimes pretty drastically, and while license details have yet to be unleashed, security problems are an issue for organisations around the world. That means it’s not so much a question of if the government’s health system is broken into, but more when.

Cyber criminals will go after data when it’s lucrative, and health data might just be the most lucrative there is.

Stilgherrian: Criminals love health data. It’s worth way more than, say, credit card numbers. Card numbers, you’d be be lucky to get a dollar each on the black market. Banks fraud control is really good these days, and the cards are killed almost immediately. But medical records, a hundred bucks each. Names, date of birth, addresses, next of kin, basically a full package for identity theft that’s almost impossible to change.

That’s the voice of Stilgherrian, one of Australia’s foremost writers in security, who says that one of the problems with the storage of health data by the Australian government is that it may not have earned the trust to do so.

Stilgherrian: The last few years have seen such a cavalcade of incompetence in government IT projects. The 2016 Census being totally overloaded, tax office systems being offline for weeks, welfare recipients being hassled for debts they didn’t owe. On top of that, one government minister actually leaked a benefit recipient’s details to the media because she dared fight back. The government has totally misread the mood of the public. People get angry when they’re signed up to an email list without being asked. Now some are discovering they’ve been signed upon for a health record.

In fact, in the past few days, health details from the Singaporean government were hacked and stolen, raising even more questions as to whether this information can be safeguarded.

Another issue My Health Record leaves is the risk of third parties seeing your data. My Health Record does allow you to place locks on what people can see and build up privacy, but it may not be ironclad.

Some organisations may be able to access My Health Record without telling you, and while there are penalties for misuse, that may come as a small comfort if your information is gleaned without your authority.

It’s worth noting that you have until October 15, 2018 to decide whether you want to be a part of My Health Record.

However, future members of your family — the sons and daughters not old enough or in existence — will be a part automatically. The opt out period is merely for those of us living in Australia right now, and so while you may choose to opt out, if you have a family in the near future, members may not be able to stay outside of the system like you have.

Some politicians are arguing that the opt out period should belonger, but until that happens, you may want to consider your options immediately.

Our guess is that families will stay in the My Health Record system because of their needs, because in the long run, it will service their children’s needs alongside theirs. However not everyone will side with My Health Record, though the public is clearly divided on what to do.

Some will stay in, and others will leave, but ultimately it’s your choice. Think about what’s best for you.

Opting out won’t be signing your death warrant, and the information about your health will still be available through other means. Likewise, staying in doesn’t mean My Health Record will leave your details scattered all over the web.

But it is something you need to think about, and with less than three months, the sooner you do it, the better you’ll be.

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