Bartone slams poor prep on MHR rollout

3 minute read

‘Whatever it takes’: AMA President Tony Bartone has vowed to resolve MHR security fears in urgent talks with Greg Hunt

AMA President Dr Tony Bartone will hold a meeting with Health Minister Greg Hunt next week to iron out security and privacy concerns plaguing the My Health Record roll-out.

Speaking to journalists after his National Press Club address today, Dr Bartone said the government agency in charge of My Health Record had done a poor job of explaining it to the public.

“The reason you might think I’m the front man for the government on their promotion and communications campaign is because it has been done so poorly,” he said.

Dr Bartone also said he would seek a meeting with Mr Hunt and do “whatever it takes” to resolve questions and ambiguities, such as possible police access to patients’ medical information in the MHR database without a warrant.

“This is a clinical tool which we believe has clinical merit,” he said.

“Privacy and security matters aside, if we can bed that down and assure ourselves that privacy and security are under control and completely remove any ambiguity in that space, it is about a clinical tool and clinical outcomes.”

Dr Bartone said AMA members had been very vocal about the benefits of a health-record database over more than a decade of development, and patients had been calling for a portable record for ready access to their health information.

“So we don’t want the past 10, 12, 15 years to be all in vain… that’s why we are having the conversation,” he said.

“Now, the communications strategy by the authority probably leaves a lot to be desired. Hence we are filling that void. Not because we’ve been asked to but because we still see there’s utility in the product.”

Doctors and patients needed to be assured that the MHR guaranteed the same level of protection as they had now, and that information could be released only under court order or judicial oversight.

“I am sure we can get that done,” he said.

“Look, I’m not a lawyer and drafting legislation is not my forte. But ensuring that patients’ security and privacy is protected is,” he added, referring to access provisions under Section 70 of the My Health Record legislation.

Dr Bartone said getting the system right and educating patients would not be achieved overnight.

“They can control the access. They need to set their security code right up front when they do activate their file, so that they regulate who will and won’t get in there.

“All of this will take time, will take effort, and there needs to be acknowledgement of all that process in the journey. But it’s the start of an even longer trek, you might say. It’s not going to be solved overnight.”

Late today, Dr Bartone issued a statement saying Mr Hunt had contacted him after the Press Club address and scheduled a meeting for next week.

“Health Minister Greg Hunt contacted me directly after the Press Club to set up a meeting to discuss all aspects of the rollout of the My Health Record,” he said.

“He has made a commitment to clear up any perceived ambiguity in the original 2012 legislation with a response that meets the AMA’s expectations and satisfaction.”

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