My Health Record Incites Privacy Fever

18:27' 01-08-2018
Since the government began uploading all Australian health records into the My Health Record (MHR) database several weeks ago, there has been a great deal of debate about the security of our intimate medical information.

    Kết quả hình ảnh cho My Health Record


    On the one hand, the government has assured us the data will be safe. Patients can set their own privacy and access settings, and no data will be sold or passed on to “third party” health apps. Centrelink, Medicare, and the ATO can access the data, or the police with a warrant.

    On the other hand, digi security experts warn no system can be 100% secure. Some people lack confidence in government information management, after events such as the 2016 Census collapse, the 2017 Centrelink “robodebt” bungle, and the accidental sale to the ABC of filing cabinets containing private documents.

    There are very good reasons to have such a system. For people in remote areas, or falling ill far from home, their medical details can be accessed quickly. The system can also reduce medication errors, which result in nearly 230,000 Australians ending up in hospital each year.

    Peter Bragge and Chris Bain, in the Monash Lens, argue that MHR could help prevent deaths, such as that of Mettaloka Halwala in November 2015. A cancer suffer, Mr Halwala's medical test results were faxed to the wrong number, with tragic results.

    While the advantages are beyond dispute, the security guarantees are not. Problems similar to Mr Halwala's could still occur if information was incorrectly delivered, or in some way corrupted.

    However, the biggest issue is deliberate misuse of the data. Patients who choose to remain in MHR should take the initiative to set their own privacy and access settings, including how to receive notifications when their records are accessed. At present, records are being uploaded with “default” security settings.

    Some mock the notion that MHR will attract hackers, because the medical information has no commercial value. Although the government maintains it will not provide information to third parties, such as insurance firms, everything has some value to the right buyer.

    Even without commercial value, MHR data could still be a tool for scams similar to the old “Telstra” and “Microsoft technical service” scams. For example, after examining your medical records, a scammer could work on your health fears, using a fake email or phone call to tell you that you might have some “deadly condition”, which they will investigate if you pay them for some “special tests”.

    Anyone who chooses to opt out must do so by 15 October 2018.

    For further information, or to opt out, visit

    Span Hanna



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Keywords: health recordsmedicarepatients

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