Going on the record

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The 3-month window for opting-out of the My Health Record begins soon. Health bureaucrats gave a Senate hearing the latest on the program, including what pharmacy’s role entails

The My Health Record program was a topic of lengthy discussion and questioning at the recent Senate Estimates Committee hearings in Canberra.

Among the data and opinions presented were many revealing figures on the scale of program, how patients can opt-out, and when. It also covered the number of pharmacies currently involved in the program, and what their role in it actually entails 

How many people

* As of 29 May, there were 5.8 million Australians with a My Health Record

The demographic breakdown

*36% of these people are under 19 years of age, 25% are between 20 and 35 years, 25% are between 40 and 64, and 14% aged over 65 years. 54% of those currently with an MHR are female, 46% male

How many pharmacies

*There are currently 1,831 retail pharmacies registered for My Health Record (as of 29 April) – when the system becomes operational. each time they dispense a medicine, a record of that dispensed
medicine is automatically sent to the MHR database. 

“So every single one of those is actively uploading data every day as they dispense medicines to people with a My Health Record,” a Department of Health official said.

The total amount of HCPs

*In total, as of 29 April, there were 11,238 provider organisations registered, increasing at a rate of approximately 120 each month. This number also includes 6,372 general practice organisations, 802 public hospitals and health service facilities, 183 private hospitals and clinics, 186 aged-care registration service organisations, 48 pathology and diagnostic imaging services, and 1,475 other healthcare provider types.


*There is a three month window, starting from July, within which people can elect to opt-out of the program (more on this below)

Kicking off

*The only way in which an individuals MHR account can be activated is by requesting it themselves or by having a clinical interaction if they haven’t opted out. 

In a community pharmacy the dispense record being sent would trigger the activation.

Telling the people

*A $25 million education campaign targeting both the public and health professionals will be undertaken during the three-month opt-out period. Public information will be provided in the Chemist Warehouse and Terry White Pharmacies magazines.

Tim Kelsey, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Digital Health Agency, said: “There is a very comprehensive communications plan that was informed in its design by the experience of two opt-out trial site pilots that were run by the Department of Health in 2016, and the communications exercise will deliver, to all Australians, the opportunity to be aware of their rights to opt out and, if they wish to, to opt out.”

“I’m confident that we’ve done everything we can to ensure that every Australian has the
opportunity to learn about the My Health Record and their right to opt out, and we are monitoring the degree to which awareness follows that opportunity. We will intervene if there are communities that seem to have less awareness than others as we go through the opt-out period,” he said.

Register your dislike

*At the moment “just over” 11,000 Australians have registered to get instructions on the opt-out process. These people will be emailed with information on opting-out when the process goes active on the 16 July.

Mr Kelsey said: “There are three ways in which people can opt out and, again, they have been designed in the context of the learning from the opt-out trials. The first is online, the second is via the call centre and the third is that, where appropriate, particularly in remote and rural Australia, there will be the opportunity to opt out on paper forms”.


*By the time the public information campaign begins, “all GPs and pharmacists will have been trained in My Health Record,” Mr Kelsey said.

“In many parts of Australia, that’s already the case as activity has increased over the last few
months. That is so that they are able to understand what My Health Record is and make a decision about whether they wish to connect but, crucially, also support and counsel their patients in the event that they are asked about the opt-out opportunity.”


*The PSA guidelines for pharmacies explain what best practice looks like, in terms of explaining the system to a patient upon activation, Mr Kelsey said. 

“The Pharmaceutical Society has published guidance which is put together in consultation with its membership, for example, in order to precisely prescribe what best practice— having a conversation—looks like for pharmacists”.

However, an individual healthcare provider is unlikely to know whether a record has been activated or not until they view it, so a pharmacist, for example, won’t know whether the consumer has opted out. 

Click delete

*After a visit to a health professional a patient  can go online and locate their My Health Record and delete a document they don’t want to be present in their record. They can also do that via the call centre in relation to deleting the record itself.

Is your pharmacy registered for My Health Record? Click here to vote in our poll 




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