AMA says almost all Australians have a My Health Record but not everyone is using it

The AMA's federal president has said the number of records doesn't mean anything if there's nothing in it.

Despite the number of Australians that have a My Health Record, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) federal president Dr Tony Bartone has highlighted that it will not deliver all that it's touted as promising if it isn't being utilised properly.

"So almost a year on from that debate we've seen the introduction, and the legislation has passed, and certainly 90.7% of Australians now do have a My Health record," Bartone said, addressing the National Press Club on Wednesday.

"But that's only part of the conversation, because that record doesn't mean anything if there's nothing in it."

Bartone said the industry needs to look at how My Health Record is being used.

"At the moment, there's just not the information being shared between all parts of the system in a meaningful manner to allow that utility," he said.

Following concerns over the privacy and security of My Health Record, Bartone said protection of privacy is fundamental.

"Clearly protection of privacy is fundamental and something we took very seriously then, we take very seriously now, and we will continue to ensure remains very, very significant," he continued. 

"The protections about the secondary use of data on this system has been well and truly documented -- it is one of the key issues that we brought to bear because of the momentum that was public opinion at the time."

See also: How to keep EHRs secure and safe from cybercriminals (TechRepublic)

Bartone said there is a need for more conversation and a maturing of the health record.

"Giving Australia ... the health literacy to use the their record effectively and efficiently for their own purpose, take control ... giving the patient the power to use it to expedite and assist in their care journey through a very complex system," he said.

It was revealed during Senate Estimates in February that a little over 2.5 million Australians had opted out of the government's online medical file.

A week prior, the Department of Health disclosed that by mid-November, almost 300,000 Australians had removed themselves from the My Health Record system and cancelled their existing electronic medical record.

Many people who wanted to opt out found that they could not, since a record was already created for them.

The ADHA in January said 6.45 million individuals had a My Health Record. At the time, the agency said that almost half a million of these accounts had been created on purpose by Australians, with the remainder automatically set up by the government during its trial periods.

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