2.5m Australians opt out of My Health Record scheme

More than 2.5 million Australians have opted out of the country’s controversial My Health Record scheme, according to new figures.

The Guardian reported that the figures were revealed in Senate estimates , and show that almost one in 10 Australians eligible for Medicare have opted out of the system.

My Health Record’s opt-out period expired at the end of January, after a three-month extension after it emerged that many people were having difficulties contacting authorities to opt out of the system, either electronically or with a dedicated telephone line.

Figures show that around 1.4 million people opted out of the system during the three-month extension period.

A further 300,000 people had cancelled their records, and people can still take this option despite the opt-out period finishing.

The system automatically created an electronic health record for every Australian citizen who did not decide to opt out, and was designed to allow patient information to be shared between different health providers.

This is supposed to lead to ‘joined-up’ care between different providers, but during the roll-out period, technical glitches and the system’s security and privacy issues have been the focus of public scrutiny.

It emerged that third parties such as big pharma companies could apply to see the data, as well as medical and public health researchers.

Perhaps even more concerning were reports that other agencies such as the police could have access to the records, causing worries that authorities could use the records to snoop on citizens.

Technical glitches have also prevented clinical providers uploading information, although health officials have said these problems have largely been resolved.

Health officials said the result of the opt-out was in line with expectations.

But shadow health minister, Labor’s Catherine King, said: “The government’s rushed implementation of an opt-out model created a range of problems and severely undermined public support for a system that could deliver enormous health benefits for all Australians.”

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