Date published: 
25 July 2018
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

25 July 2018



E&OE…



Topics: My Health Record.



ROBBIE BUCK:

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has just called in. Good morning to you, Minister.



GREG HUNT:

Good morning.



ROBBIE BUCK:

Okay, we have been- well, quoting some of the reports this morning suggesting that there are a vast number of people who will have access to the My Health database. The number, I think, of about 900,000 was being quoted in some reports. What are you saying?



GREG HUNT:

No, that’s incorrect. In fact, I’ve just been speaking with the head of the Digital Health Agency and confirmed that that’s incorrect. The only people who can access your health record are those who have a link to you as a treating clinician or medical doctor, or other medical person. So, by the nature of the system, they have to have a direct link to you.



In other words, it’s your GP practice, or those who are treating you within a hospital setting and it's technically impossible for them to link in. So a doctor in Perth who wanted to inquire into Greg Hunt or Wendy Harmer can't just do that. They've actually got to be registered as a treating clinician. And so that's built into the system. And in addition, there's a second level where any person, whether it's Greg Hunt or Wendy Harmer, could set additional privacy settings that says only they or only they plus doctor X or Y can access this.



ROBBIE BUCK:

Okay, so you’re saying the…



GREG HUNT:

I know that report has been out there, but it’s been false and categorically wrong.



ROBBIE BUCK:

Okay. You’re saying we, as the individual patient, are able to put those conditions on our own record?



GREG HUNT:

Yes. In fact, what you can do is you can say only the owner of the record can access it, or only the owner and a particular doctor, or doctors, and in addition to that you can choose to have any material that you don't want kept off the system, or you can take anything down.



So it may be that there are particular tests that you don't want up there. So, think of it this way, it's exactly what you've got in your GP record, but with your choice, they might put summaries up rather than the full notes. It's a matter for the GP. But you have complete control over whether you have a record, who has access to it. It's also, unlike a GP or a hospital, it’s completely tracked as to- if anybody does access it, so you see, and indeed, you can have real time notification.



ROBBIE BUCK:

So we as a patient are able to see that?



GREG HUNT:

Yes and at the moment patients don't have access to their GP records. So it's seen as a fundamental right that for the first time people are able to access their own medical records. They’d have total control as to which records are up, who has access to which records, and the default position is that only those who are treating from within your own practice has access to it.



So as I say, the medical doctor from Perth who might want to inquire into your or my records, technically has no access to do that. So I think that’s very important. We’ll just deal with the myths as they’re put up. But above all else, it’s about patient safety. As the head of the AMA said yesterday in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, it will literally save lives and it's part of the standard of care of what's going to protect people and ensure that, particularly those with chronic conditions, they can get rapid treatment.



WENDY HARMER:

Minister, there is a story in The Guardian today that comes from the Parliamentary Library, they’re independent. This comes from Nigel Brew, the director of Foreign Affairs and Security. He says that you are wrong to claim that My Health Records could only be accessed by police with a court order.



He says that, according to Section 70 of the My Health Records Act, the ADHA can disclose health information when it, quote, reasonably believes- and that’s the word – reasonably - it is necessary to investigate or prosecute a crime to counter, quote, seriously improper conduct or to, quote, protect the public revenue. Now, they are very broad terms you must admit.



GREG HUNT:

There’s an error in that analysis and that is that the clear, unchanging, absolute unconditional policy and practice of the Digital Health Agency is to implement that to the standard of a court order. So there have been, it’s very important that there's been a six-year period up until now, and we now have approximately six million people on the record, no materials, not one document has been released to the police I’m advised. And secondly, the policy implementation and interpretation of that is that there will not be any document ever released without a court order, which is the standard.



So that explains the difference in interpretation between the wording, which was put in place through the parliament in 2012 under a previous government, and the implementation where the agency is holding it up to an even higher standard. And I understand there’s bipartisan support for that.



So that will remain the position, I think, forever. And the other thing is the records are of course much more secure than in a GP clinic, which generally they have very, very high standards in any event, but this has a 24-hour cyber-security centre.



It’s been tested to military grade. Some of the intelligence agencies have actually done the testing. And there’s this 24-hour cybersecurity, which doesn’t apply in relation to other records. So you have a more comprehensive record but with higher standards of protection. But again, it's everybody's choice and you have total control. So I’m actually glad we’ve been able to have the discussion.



WENDY HARMER:

Minister, Bill Shorten, the Opposition leader, says it should ring alarm bells for Australians that even Liberal MP Tim Wilson has opted out. He suggests the system probably should be opt-in. What’s your thought about that?



GREG HUNT:

Oh look, I know there’s bipartisan support for the opt-out model. It remains the Labor position. Indeed, they introduced the system and then- which was passed unanimously in 2012 and the opt-out component of the legislation was passed unanimously by the parliament in 2015 and Labor supports that. But the beauty of it is each individual has their own choice. They have total control as to whether they are in the system or not, and that’s a very important thing.



ROBBIE BUCK:

Minister, can I ask you…



GREG HUNT:

Why are the medical groups supporting, because in the end it’s ultimately about- if you think of somebody with an anaphylaxis or an allergy to penicillin, or an unusual chronic condition, they’re in an emergency situation. They’re not able to recount their history. They might physically be unable or the complexity of it’s very difficult. It's there and it’s immediate and that's an important option.



ROBBIE BUCK:

I can certainly see the value of that. I guess that people's concerns about where that information could end up though are causing a lot of concern. And I would love you to be able to guarantee to us here and now that this information isn't going to end up in the future with health insurers, for example. That there won’t be…



GREG HUNT:

No, they don’t have any right under the legislation. The legislation prohibits that.



WENDY HARMER:

They are certainly pushing for it, Minister.



GREG HUNT:

The legislation prohibits it and we’re not changing it.



WENDY HARMER:

They’re certainly pushing to get that access.



GREG HUNT:

I think it's important to keep the critical point in mind, this is a system which is not new. It's been operating without controversy or issue for six years and there are already six million Australians who are on the system and therefore it's working for them in their interests and without any breaches. There are not just strong protections but profound and deep protections which have bipartisan support.



ROBBIE BUCK:

Alright. Look, thank you very much for calling in this morning. We appreciate it.



GREG HUNT:

No, no. Thank you for the opportunity. I really appreciate that.



ROBBIE BUCK:

That’s okay. Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.



(ENDS)


Authorised by Greg Hunt MP, Liberal Party of Australia, Hastings, Victoria.