The federal government will spend $374.2 million over the next two years giving every Australian an electronic health record by default.
The policy change from an opt-in to opt-out approach for the My Health Record scheme has been on the cards since 2015 when the government took up the recommendations of the Royle Review and announced trials that would automatically create e-records for individuals.
The review was undertaken as a result of poor adoption rates of the formerly named personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) scheme since 2012.
It looked even more likely earlier this year when the Health department quietly published the results of the trials, revealing that only 1.9 percent of the 971,000 trial participants had asked not to have a record created for them.
At the time the department said it would not make a decision on whether to proceed with a national rollout of the opt-out approach until it had considered a report by independent evaluator Siggins Miller.
Legislation enabling the change has already been introduced into parliament.
In 2017-18 budget documents, the government confirmed widely-held expectations that it would officially move into a full-scale rollout of opt-out records.
“This follows unanimous support at COAG [in late March] for a national rollout of My Health Record with every Australian to receive a record, or opt out if they choose to do so,” budget documents state.
The $374.2 million in funding for the next two years will go towards expanding the system to an opt-out model.
The My Health Records system will allow individuals to “access and control their own medical history and treatments” like medical tests and vaccines.
The government said the costs of the expansion would be partially offset - to the tune of $305.5 million over four years - by “health system efficiencies” stemming from greater use of the MyHR system by medical professionals and by utilising uncommited health program funds.
The Commonwealth had spent a total of $1.15 billion from 2009-10 to June 2016 on the development and operation of the platform.