My Health Record opt-out rush crashes hotline

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Wednesday, 07 November, 2018

My Health Record opt-out rush crashes hotline

The rush of Australians calling to opt out of the My Health Record digital health system before the 15 November deadline has reportedly overloaded and crashed the hotline.

The computer system used by the call centre operators has crashed after the hotline was inundated with calls, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The increased activity comes amid the ongoing controversy over the privacy and security implications of the health record system.

Legislation currently before parliament to enshrine a patient's right to permanently delete their health record, and to ensure police are required to obtain a warrant before accessing the health data, will not be passed before the opt-out deadline.

Health Minister Greg Hunt has refused to extend the opt-out period for a further 12 months beyond the 15 November deadline, despite recommendations from a Senate inquiry. The deadline had already been extended for an extra month.

According to the Herald, as of 19 October around 1.15 million Australians had opted out between when the opt-out period began on 16 July and 15 October, with 300,000 explicitly opting in during this window.

Around 6 million already have a digital record after opting in to the prior system, and around 17 million are set to be allocated a record once the opt-out period ends next Thursday.

IT experts have warned of the potential significant negative effect of the digital health record legislation on patient privacy, and the devastating impact a breach of such a large trove of patient records could have.

But the Australian Digital Health Agency has recently been moving to reassure the public to stem the flow of opt-outs. The agency recently published research into the study of heath record systems of 50 countries worldwide suggesting that Australia's digital health record system gives consumers more control over their information than comparable systems.

Image credit: © Singular

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