Petition to extend the opt-out period for MyHealthRecord

Chances are, if you are reading this blog post, then you have heard about the governments plan to change MyHealthRecord from “opt-in” to “opt-out”. But it’s increasingly apparent that there are many who haven’t, including some who haven’t heard about MyHealthRecord full stop. This is a problem.

On the 16th of July, a three-month period began, after which people who haven’t opted-out will have a record created for them automatically. This change to the system has triggered a wave of discussion about the merits and dangers of the MyHealthRecord, and a lot of people are opting-out for a variety of different reasons. The arguments both for and against are many and varied. Some see no issue at all, while others are suggesting the whole thing be scrapped. Some are taking the precautionary approach and opt-ing out for now, but may jump in later, while others are pushing for changes to be made. My personal view as a doctor living with cancer is that, done well, MyHealthRecord can be of huge benefit to both patients and staff, making healthcare more effective and efficient. I opted-in some time ago and will continue to use it. But as it stands, it is not being “done well”, and there are legitimate issues around consent, usability and privacy to name but a few, and there are definitely legitimate reasons for opting-out.

These issues, combined with the lack of awareness about them, means that the three-month period to opt-out is not long enough. It is unethical to automatically generate a MyHealthRecord without the patient’s consent while these significant issues remain unresolved. That’s why I started this petition to increase the duration of the opt-out period. Whatever your view, I think we can all agree, that giving people more time is a good thing. It will allow more people to learn about MyHealthRecord, and make an informed decision about whether to opt-out or not. It will allow more time to clarify aspects of the system and the legislation behind it, and perhaps even modify some of it. It’s too big a change, with too much at stake for it to be rushed.

So, despite all the controversy and confusion, one thing is clear. We need more time. Even if you have made your decision, I think it’s only fair that we give others the same opportunity. So please sign my petition, and share it with your family, friends and colleagues. Especially those that haven’t even heard of MyHealthRecord, and will shortly end up with one whether they want it or not.

[If you would like to read more of my thoughts on it, you can do so here and here.]

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