More than 2.5 million Australian’s eligible for a personal electronic health record have opted-out of the federal government persistently troubled and controversial My Health Record scheme.
Fronting senate estimates on Wednesday, Australian Digital Health Agency chief Tim Kelsey revealed that 2,517,921 individuals elected not to have an e-health record created as at the conclusion of the opt-out period on January 31, 2019.
This is just under ten percent of the 25,459,544 individuals eligible for Medicare, which is broadly where the agency had hoped to arrive at the conclusion of the opt-out window.
“The [health] minister indicated in July that he was looking for a 90 percent participation record. That’s pretty much where we’ve landed,” the Department of Health's health systems policy and primary care group deputy secretary Caroline Edwards said.
However roughly half the final number of opt-outs appear to have occurred after the government was forced to extend the opt-out period by a further two-and-a-half months last November.
The only other opt-out count provided by the ADHA put the number of Australian's who chose to withdraw their consent from the scheme at 1.147 million as at the end of October 2018.
The final opt-out figure is also significantly higher than the results from the October 2016 opt-out trial, where only 1.9 percent of the 971,000 individuals involved asked not to have a record created for them.
However Kelsey stressed that this would continue to ebb and flow as the e-health record allow individuals to opt-in at any time or cancel their record and have the contents permanently deleted.
Around 287,995 Australians had cancelled their e-health records as at 11 November 2018, according to the recent answers to questions on notice.
New safeguards were added to My Health Record on 24 January to allow records to be permanently deleted following the passage of legislation introducing extra privacy and security.
Prior to this, records for those who chose to opt-out of the system were made unavailable to healthcare providers, but not permanently deleted.
The changes also made it harder for agencies and police to gain access to the content of a personal electronic health record and introduce tougher penalties for system misuse, including by employers.