May 11, 2017

Govt’s electronic health record plan is a data breach waiting to happen

And you should opt out of it as soon as you can, freelancer Asher Wolf writes.

E health privacy

I love me my internets. Love ’em. Datalove, cyber-hippies, instant-data-transfers, crowdsourced decision-making, OpenGov, making shiny cyber-societies of transhuman wealth and immortality, and all that shit. Share your selfies, encrypt your hearts! Etc, etc, etc.

But every so often in the government’s search for INNOVATION! and CYBER! a shitty proposal rears its head that’s so utterly noxious that I feel the need to wave my wooden spoon around: Bad government! Bad!

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12 thoughts on “Govt’s electronic health record plan is a data breach waiting to happen

  1. paddy

    Pretty well nailed it Asher.

  2. Draco Houston

    Yeah, I don’t want what I tell my doc to be shared outside the health system.

  3. graybul

    Not only do I not want My Health data distributed nationally or internationally . . . but nor do I want the current Minister (or any other Minister) claiming its all ok cos he has personally jammed HIS finger up the dyke.

  4. PDGFD1

    Is there a method to ‘Opt Out’ – have been looking on the website, no luck so far.

  5. billie

    Brazil has had eHealth since before 2007 for everyone, probably to track dengue fever. It would be handy for me because as I get older I can’t remember when I had what procedure and I can’t remember whether I am allergic to Kelflex or Flagyl.

    However I don’t trust this mob not to misuse my health info

  6. Canto I

    Looking for how to opt-out on the My Health website, I found myself on the privacy-statement page. This was last updated on 15 November 2017.

  7. Scott Grant

    There is also a fundamental health related reason why centralised health records can be a bad thing. This is that health records can be wrong or they can contain information that can be misinterpreted even by so-called health professionals. It should be a fundamental right of every person to be able to see a clinician who has not pre-judged them.

    Medical records are complex beasts with many different types of data. As the author noted, a medical record can include random notes, jottings, observations, musings, speculations of each contributing clinician. Results from a pathology laboratory should be pretty much straight forward facts (which you might not want to share if the fact is, say, HIV status or blood alcohol level at a particular time). Diagnoses, on the other hand, are opinions. They can be wrong. They can be misleading.

    This is particularly relevant when mental health issues are involved. Psychiatric diagnoses are very much opinion, and frequently unsupported by any verifiable fact.

    Take the example of a friend of mine, who sought help from a number of mental health practitioners over a number of years. He accumulated a list of more than dozen different diagnoses most of which were absurd and contradictory and many were easily refutable. Yet they remained in the record. The initial impression when looking at this list is that this person must be a real fruit cake. If it is in the record it must be true!

    After a suicide attempt by overdosing on his prescription medication, he was admitted to a hospital to deal with the aftermath. I think the “reason for admission” was “drug overdose”. During his stay, at least one specialist refused appropriate pain treatment on the grounds that he was a heroin addict. They had misinterpreted the reason for admission and jumped to an unsupported and false conclusion.

    Needless to say, this person does NOT want that somewhat false and prejudicial medical record made available elsewhere and has filed an advanced care directive that, under no circumstances are they willing to be treated within the local health district that holds the record.

    1. Damon

      Thank you for explaining a reason against centralised health records which I hadn’t considered.

    2. Scott Grant

      I spoke to my friend over the weekend. He told me that when the specialist refused a specific treatment because he was an addict, he challenged that and asked the doctor how he had arrived at that conclusion. The doctor began to bluster and quickly search the printed record and said “Well you have an extensive psychiatric history!”. At which point my friend fled the office in tears and never returned.

      So, a collected list of largely disputable and unhelpful diagnoses, from a series of clinicians who had been unable to provide any effective help, becomes “an extensive psychiatric history” and is used to deny one type of treatment for a specific physical condition.

  8. Terry O'Connor

    I was wrongly diagnosed years ago as having an allergy to penicillin – vancomycin if memory serves me. I was actually allergic to cream being used at the same time. It took months of nagging before I could get the false diagnosis corrected, and that process involved only one hospital and about four doctors. I shudder to think what it would have involved if My Health Record had been storing my records.

  9. Dominic Meagher

    Where’s the link to opt out?

  10. Ellen Bannister

    I’ve also tried to find out how to opt out. Please tell us how Asher.

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