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My Health Record: I’m in two minds!

Let’s talk about the My Health Record for a second.

As a paediatric nurse and a mother, I often find myself caught between two worlds.

There’s the world of the nurse who is rational, scientific and methodical in her approach.

With the My Health Record gaining more and more momentum, I find myself stuck between these two identities.

And… then there’s the Mum who is sometimes rational, cares less for the scientific proof when she can feel it in her bones that the science ‘might not have caught up yet’ and she ‘wings it’ most days.

Mum Brooke is less organised because… life.

With the My Health Record gaining more and more momentum, I find myself stuck between these two identities.

Nurse Brooke LOVES the idea of My Health.

Mum Brooke, like many others, has her reservations.

So let’s explore this further…

Nurse Brooke loves the My Health record

When I wear my nursing shoes, I love it because I believe it is going to make my job so much easier.

It should help me to implement care for you much more quickly because I will already know your patient history in great detail.

I’ll have access to all the things!

If you move interstate, the ability to get your treatment and medication history will be just one click of a button and voilà! (As a person who has lived all over Australia, I find the idea of not having to do a full patient history with my new Doctor every single time soooooooo appealing!)

I can also make sure you are given your regular medications because I’ll know why you’re taking them and at what dose and frequency. Presuming my colleagues have kept things up-to-date, of course!

I’ll also be able to see why you might be missing that foot without having to ask you. For the record (pun intended!) though, I’ll probably ask you anyhow because good nurses do.

So all in all, Nurse Brooke likes the idea of the My Health record.

BUT…

Mum Brooke totally has her reservations

As a mother, I am concerned about my children’s right to privacy as well as my own.

My Health Record has been plagued with unfavourable press until recently. Press that highlighted issues with privacy and how the data will be used.

In fact, the Senate Committee issued fourteen recommendations on 18th October 2018. These recommendations included the need for ‘record access codes’ being assigned to all My Health records with the individual having the power to have it removed.

Recommendation number 4 concerned me the most:

“The committee recommends that data which is likely to be identifiable from an individual’s My Health Record not be made available for secondary use without the individual’s explicit consent.”

Why did they even need to recommend this!?!

Shouldn’t it be accessed only when I have given explicit consent?

The fact that they had to make these recommendations to an Act or a Rule is very concerning for me.

A recent announcement (January, 24)  that the My Health Record will not be made available for insurance and employment purposes and that records can now be permanently deleted at the patient’s request leaves me feeling a little more confident.

I would like my kids to have the opportunity to make a decision about their own private data for themselves. Perhaps when they turn eighteen, they won’t want all that data available but by then, it will be too late?

For the sake of ensuring the information given is accurate, I’ve copied and pasted the list of changes they made reference to in their January 24 media release:

• Better privacy protections for 14 to 17-year-olds so that access to records by parents will automatically be withheld and the record-holder would have to consent to their access being allowed. The ADHA has said this provision will be introduced shortly.

• MHR data can’t be used for insurance or employment purposes.

• Improved protection for those at risk of domestic violence.

• Making it clear that the only government agencies that can access the MHR system are the ADHA, the Department of Health and the Chief Executive of Medicare.

• Ensuring the system cannot be privatised.

• Enshrining in legislation the principles and governance structure in the Framework to guide the secondary uses of My Health data.

• Increasing the penalties incurred for inappropriate or unauthorized use

All of this is a step in the right direction, but… Mum Brooke still feels a little nervous at the thought of having a record and creating a record on behalf of her children.

I would like my kids to have the opportunity to make a decision about their own private data for themselves. Perhaps when they turn eighteen, they won’t want all that data available but by then, it will be too late?

So as you can see, I too am having difficulty with deciding if ‘My Health Records’ is a positive addition to our healthcare system, or a poorly planned and worrisome project.

What are you thoughts and feelings on the My Health Record?

Please note that the DEADLINE FOR PEOPLE TO OPT OUT OF MHR IS JANUARY 31. People who do nothing will be automatically enrolled onto MHR. Those who want no part of MHR can cancel now or at any time in the future. You can also set controls on who may see your health records. For more details go to My Health Record website or helpline, 1800 723 471.

Brooke Batchelor has an extensive paediatric nursing background spanning 13 years and has worked all over Australia and Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. In 2015, Brooke began blogging about her concerns with the restraint of children during painful procedures. Her blog garnered a lot of attention, and since then, she has developed an online learning platform specifically for paediatric nurses. Her passion lies with giving children and their families a voice in healthcare. She hopes to one day use her business to set up purpose programs that empower children & their families and to provide scholarships to nurses seeking post-graduate qualifications in play therapy. Brooke continues to work casually at her local hospital in Townsville to ensure her skills remain current and enjoys spending time with her family at the local beach or fishing the local waterways.

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