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Australian government allocates AU$374.2 million for national rollout of opt-out model of My Health Record

The Australian government plans to provide AU$374.2 million over a period of two years, from 2017-18 onwards, including AU$94.0 million in capital, to ensure that every Australian has a My Health Record, unless they prefer not to. This fund will support continuation and improvement of the operations of My Health Record, in addition to the expanded roll-out of the opt-out model across the country.

The costs are expected to be partially offset to the extent of AU$305.5 million over four years, by delivering health system efficiencies through greater use of the My Health Record by general practitioners, specialists and hospitals, and by utilising uncommitted health program funds.

The My Health Record system allows individuals to control and track their medical history and treatments, such as medical tests and vaccinations. Users can choose to share health information with doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers, who can then view the details online from anywhere at any time in an accident or emergency.

The Budget statement for the Health Portfolio provides  a rationale for having an opt-out system, rather than opt-in saying that this the fastest way to realise significant health and economic benefits of My Health Record for all Australians. The benefits would include avoided hospital admissions, fewer adverse drug events, reduced duplication of tests, better coordination of care for people seeing multiple healthcare providers, and better informed treatment decisions.

The Department of Health will work with the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) to improve operation of the My Health Record system. ADHA plays the role of the My Health Record System Operator and is responsible for protecting the security, privacy and confidentiality of people’s digital health records.

ADHA will communicate with the community to maximise their awareness of the My Health Record, so that individuals can choose to have a record and apply access settings, or choose to opt-out. National opt-out is expected to be delivered by 31 December 2018.

Enhancement targets and timelines

The Budget document presents timelines related to the enhancements of the My Health Record system by ADHA. The design of an improved view of medicines information is planned to be available in the My Health Record by 30 June 2017, while a minimum of 60% of dispensed pharmacy prescriptions supplied to consumers will be registered with the My Health Record by 30 June 2018. The proportion of pharmacy prescriptions registered with the system should increase to 90% by 30 June 2019.

There is a 2017-18 target for all States and territories, two private diagnostic imaging providers and two private pathology providers to share diagnostic imaging and pathology reports with the My Health Record. By 2018-19, 60% of reports by private pathology and diagnostic imaging providers for consumers with a My Health Record  would be uploaded.

By 2017-18, an upgrade is planned to be released to the My Health Record system to improve the medicines view, end user experience and mobile access. In addition, public hospital connections will be completed and 20 more private hospitals will be connected between 1 July 2017 and 30 June 2018 and a further 20 added during 2018-19.

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