My Health Record opt-outs will not sink system: Turnbull

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the government's My Health Record won't be sunk by large numbers of people opting out of the system.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor
(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said mass withdrawals from Australia's electronic health records will not kill the system.

A My Health Record will be set up for every Australian unless they opt out by October 15, with thousands withdrawing amid security concerns.

"It doesn't need to have a particular number of people in it," the prime minister told Tasmanian radio station LAFM on Friday.

Turnbull said the system is secure, likening it to storing information digitally rather than in a filing cabinet within a doctor's surgery, but that people are free to opt out.

"It is very much a matter for individuals," he said.

The prime minister is familiar with the potential for security breaches due to the use of filing cabinets, after his department lost a cabinet full of top secret documents from Cabinet earlier this year.

After the first day of the opt-out period, 20,000 had already chosen to not have a digital health record.

Despite the legislation behind My Health Record allowing enforcement bodies to access health records to prevent criminal offences, as well as for revenue-raising purposes, the Australian Digital Health Agency has been claiming it will only give access under a court order.

A number of users have reported high waiting times on the opt-out phone line, which ADHA pinned on callers.

"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 on Tuesday evening.

During the million-person trial of My Health Record, less than 2 percent opted out, with ADHA projecting around 500,000 Australians would opt out during the current three-month window.

With AAP

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