My Health Record opt-outs tracking at less than 10 percent: Hunt

Everything is rosy for Australia's health minister when it comes to My Health Record.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt has revealed that the government was expecting a My Health Record opt-out rate of 10 percent, and so far, from the government's point of view, it is tracking better than that.

"We were expecting up to 90 percent would be enrolled, and looks like it will be more than that now," Hunt told 2GB on Tuesday. "So it's actually tracking ahead of our positive expectations."

The minister also said Health's systems have been "working continuously", with a 90 percent success rate on interactions.

"What might happen is that people could have a session timeout or an internet dropout or open more than one internet browser window, but if there are issues, the best thing is for anybody to call the number 1800 723 471," Hunt said on problems experienced by users.

The line of argument follows a similar one to the Australian Digital Health Authority (ADHA), which operates the My Health Record system, which pinned issues on the opening day of the opt-out window on users.

Must read: The My Health Record story no politician should miss

"There have been some human error issues, with consumers not having the right information to correctly opt out which has slowed down the process for some people. In these instances, people are encouraged to call the My Health Record call centre on 1800 723 471," an ADHA spokesperson told ZDNet.

Users had reported call waiting times of more than two hours on the opening Monday, but according to ADHA's call waiting time report, the wait time is generally less than 10 minutes, except at lunch time.

Speaking to 2GB on Tuesday, Hunt avoided the reported issue of people being unable to opt out with a driver's licence, and needing to use a passport to complete the process.

Yesterday, the federal opposition called on the government to extend the opt-out window, citing a lack of education of the public.

"The government has failed to effectively communicate with the public about what the My Health Record is and the potential benefits it could bring," Shadow Minister of Health Catherine King said on Monday.

"It has also failed to explain to people how their rights will be respected and their privacy protected.

"This approach has fueled suspicion and scepticism -- which could be why tens of thousands of people rushed to opt out in the first week."

On the first day of the opt-out window, 20,000 people chose not have a digital health record. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Friday that a high number of opt-outs would not kill the system.

Despite the legislation behind My Health Record allowing enforcement bodies to warrantlessly access health records to prevent criminal offences, as well as for revenue-raising purposes, the Australian Digital Health Agency and a number of so-called experts have continued to claim access to health records will only be given under a court order.

During Friday, the Singaporean government revealed a health record data breach affecting 1.5 million patients, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

In May, ADHA said that across the trial period of My Health Record involving 1 million people, less than 2 percent of users opted out, and less than 0.1 percent used any of the privacy controls in the system.

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