Full text: Letter to Editor, Sunday Telegraph from Chief Executive Tim Kelsey

Australian Digital Health Agency Chief Executive Tim Kelsey recently wrote to the editor of the Sunday Telegraph to correct a number of claims made in the article, All your medical secrets on the net, previously published in the Sunday Telegraph on 26 November 2017.

A version of the full text of the letter below was published in Letters on Sunday 3 December 2017.

Dear Kathy,

I am writing to correct your article, All your medical secrets on the net, Sunday Telegraph, 26 November 2017.

My Health Record places Australians in control of their healthcare and gives authorised healthcare providers secure digital access to key health information at the point of care, wherever that may be. Benefits include reduced hospital admissions, reduced duplication of tests, better coordinated care, and better informed treatment decisions.

The article stated that: ‘Every last intimate aspect of your health will be available on the internet as of next year’. My Health Record is only accessible to authorised clinical users with valid registration, identity credentials and accredited software and the record recipient. Its security and privacy controls allow individuals to determine who sees their data and there is a real-time, monitored audit log of all access. My Health Record is not accessible over the ‘open’ internet, as the article suggested, and there will no change to the security protocols ‘as of next year’. More than 5.3 million people currently have a My Health Record.

The article claimed: ‘There would be no public advertising about how consumers could tell the government they did not want a record set up.’ The Federal government has committed $27.75m to ensure all Australians are aware of the security controls in My Health Record and their right to opt out. This is in addition to $52.38m which has been allocated to support educate and training for all registered healthcare providers. This programme of comprehensive communication and engagement will be undertaken in collaboration with clinical and consumer leaders, including the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the Australian Medical Association, the Pharmacy Guild, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and the Consumer Health Forum, as well as all Primary Health Networks and state and territory health services, among others.

The article stated: ‘All medical receptionists will have complete access unless you set up a PIN and controls.’ It is a criminal offence for anyone other than a registered clinical professional to access a patient’s My Health Record and it is a criminal offence for a registered clinical professional to open a record without authorisation. This can carry up to two years imprisonment. My Health Record requires each clinical professional to have unique identity credentials as well as conformant clinical software to open a My Health Record. This is not available to any medical receptionist.

The article stated: ‘Information will also be made available to researchers.’ The Department of Health has consulted on development of a framework for data to potentially be available for research and health improvement purposes. There is currently no secondary use of data within the My Health Record and no researchers have access to it.

Tim Kelsey
Chief Executive Officer
Australian Digital Health Agency