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MyHealth Record privacy

My Health Record is an individual’s online summary of key health information, stored within the Commonwealth Government’s myGov system. Health information can be viewed safely and securely anywhere, at any time, with connection to the internet.

Using My Health Record, women and their healthcare providers will have access to information stored in the system, which may include shared health summaries, prescribed and dispensed medicines, and hospital discharge summaries. My Health Record can list results from pathology and imaging reports such as blood tests and x-rays, organ donation choices, and immunisation register information.

For many women, privacy and security of their medical information is understandably of paramount importance. My Health Record protects data using safeguards including encryption, firewalls, and secure logins.

As women are often carers to their parents and their children, it’s important to know they can be representatives on their family members’ My Health Records also. Children and teenagers automatically have their parent or registered guardian as their Authorised Representative of their My Health Record if they are on the same Medicare card. To access a child’s record, a mother just has to link them through their myGov account. To become a Nominated Representative of an elderly parent, permission needs to be provided via the My Health Record website or through written documentation.

Things to be aware of

  • The default settings on your My Health Record is set to general access for all healthcare professionals and organisations to see. Should you maintain a My Health Record, you are able to place privacy settings on who is able to access, see and upload information on your My Health Record.
  • You are able to create user codes for your different healthcare professionals to access your My Health Record. Should you wish, you can allow access to only upload information but not to view anything in your My Health Record. You can ask to not have certain documents uploaded and you can also delete documents or information that you do not want to be seen in your My Health Record. Once items are deleted, they are permanently gone.
  • Audit logging means women can see which provider has accessed their documents and when. Setting up SMS notifications means an email or text is sent any time a new healthcare provider accesses an individual’s My Health Record, including in an emergency. These SMS notifications are not set up by default – you will need to log in and update your settings.
  • In case of an emergency where you are unable to provide any information because you are incapacitated, emergency room staff are authorised to open your My Health Record to see your health summary and glean information that may be relevant to your care. This ‘breach’ is allowed for a 48-hour period only. You will be able to see when and for how long your record was accessed.
  • If you or your children are affected by domestic and family violence, you can take precautions to protect your privacy through MyHealth. This is important, as perpetrators of violence may have access to login details for myGov for their partner or children. Some healthcare records uploaded to MyHealth may include the patient’s address details, or may give an indication of what health services or geographic area the patient is in regularly. More information is available on the MyHealth website’s Family and domestic violence page.

Using apps to view your MyHealth Record

The Australian Digital Health Agency can give authorisation to third party apps to view MyHealth record information on mobile phone or tablet apps. These apps cannot upload documents, but can view information that already exists in your MyHealth Record. This can be useful for people who need an easy way to check or share their healthcare information but don’t want to carry documents with them, such as for sharing with healthcare providers.

There are currently four apps approved by the Australian Digital Health Agency to access MyHealth data:

  • Tyde – this app was built by a private company. The company seems to have shut down following the Health Minister’s announcement in November 2018 that apps would not be allowed to give personal data to private health insurers even if the person consents. The app is no longer available for iOS, but is still in the Google Play store. It was last updated October 2018, and reviews comment on it not working when they try to connect to myGov.
  • HealthEngine – this app was built by a private company that is part owned by Telstra. Their app is free to use and seems to be aimed primarily at booking appointments with clinics and checking reviews posted by other patients, with no mention of accessing MyHealth. ABC news reported in August 2019 that they were subject to legal action by ACCC for providing lists of prospective clients to personal injury compensation lawyers, to private health insurance brokers, and modifying reviews of healthcare providers to look more positive. They have not publicly denied selling lists of patient data, but have denied that they “sold off our entire user database”. No announcement has yet been made of resolution to the legal matter.
  • HealthNow – this app is wholly owned by Telstra, although there are little to no details about how the business operates in their Annual Report. It is free for users, who can use it to book and pay for telehealth appointments. There appear to have been no complaints made about breaches of privacy, but the app’s reviews indicate it is buggy in its connection to MyHealth. The app was last updated in July 2019.
  • Healthi – this app is developed by a private company in South Australia. The company won the tender for the next generation MyHealth system development, worth $8m, in June 2019. Their app was last updated on 3 July 2019, and the reviews indicate it is still buggy in its connection to MyHealth. The app is free to use and there is no information on their website or in media about how they monetise the app.

If you have a web browser on your phone, you can access your myGov and MyHealth Record with no need to install a third party app.