You Have Three Days Left To Opt Out Of My Health Record

The countdown for Australians to opt out of the government's controversial My Health Record database is in its final days.

We've been here once before, when back in November the deadline for the opt-out period -- which was initially only meant to be three months long -- was pushed back to January 31, 2019.

The Senate voted to extend the period after people reported long phone wait times, busy phone lines and crashing websites while trying to leave the system.

Privacy concerns, including the security of the system, hacking and uncertainties around just who could access the sensitive information it will hold also prompted calls for an extension of the period so changes could be made and people could take the time to learn what it all meant for them.

My Health Record aims to be a digital one-stop-shop for patient details and history, giving access to registered medical staff.

But with only three days left before up to 17 million Australians have a record automatically created for them, medical professionals are still concerned about what it will mean.

Wentworth MP and Sydney GP Kerryn Phelps is seeking legal advice ahead of the rollout, worried about how doctors may be held liable for mistakes made as a result of incorrect or incomplete data provided by My Health Record.

"GPs I talk to are furious about it," Phelps told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Phelps called on the government to protect GPs against potential lawsuits in the event a patient suffers an adverse reaction from treatment chosen using wrong information from My Health Record.

Given the complexity of patient history and record keeping, which can include the review of initial diagnoses, Phelps isn't confident ADHA's system can deliver a comprehensive record for every Australian.

Why People Have Opted Out

According to the latest figures released by ADHA, more than 1.1 million people had opted out by late October 2018.

Many people reported having concerns with all their sensitive health information -- which could include their mental health, sexually transmitted infections and HIV status -- available on one central database.

Earlier government privacy and tech breaches, including the 2016 Census as well as Medicare numbers being sold on the dark web, have raised red flags in the minds of ordinary citizens and technology experts as to how well the government can keep information safe.

"There are so many issues. There are so many risks that, all combined, I'm like 'uhh no'. Simply, the Australian government cannot do computers," IT consultant and Electronic Frontiers Australia board member Justin Warren told 10 daily in July last year.

"We have seen so many instances where government IT systems fail in predictable ways. The risk of exposure of your health information is so high. It’s very valuable info, cybercriminals will be coming after it and we’re building a dirty great database to put it in one place."

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The system was initially designed so after a record is created it could not be deleted in its entirety.

However, new laws passed following the backlash mean individuals will be able to choose to delete their Health Record should it be created after Thursday's deadline.

The new laws also prohibit insurers and employers accessing information gathered in the system, and law enforcement agencies will also not be able to access anyone's My Health Record without a warrant or court order.

How To Opt Out

You can opt out of the system on the My Health website.

You will need to verify your identity with your Medicare Card or Department of Veteran's Affairs (DVA) card, and either your driver licence, passport or Immicard.