Australians that choose to opt-out of the My Health Record will do so through a standalone portal and not via the myGov online service portal, the Australian Digital Health Agency has revealed.
The e-health record operator has created the opt-out portal to remove the need to force individuals to register for a myGov account.
It was first tested during the opt-out trials in the Northern Queensland and Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Networks last year, at a time when myGov was plagued by complaints about its reliability and usability.
myGov has since undergone a $50 million overhaul by the Department of Human Service, Australian Taxation Office and the Digital Transformation Agency to address concerns about usability on mobile devices and offer simpler navigation.
A spokesperson from the ADHA told iTnews that the opt-out portal was created to “provide a direct process for people whose sole desire for interaction with government services is to opt-out, whereas myGov’s purpose is to provide simple and secure access to government online services”.
“Consumers are required to go through sign-up process in order to be authenticated every time when accessing myGov, which is a barrier for people wanting to opt-out [of a My Health Record],” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson also noted that evaluations of the standalone opt-out portal during the opt-out trial had found it to be “cost effective” and “easy to use”.
The ADHA is now planning to use the portal in the shift from opt-in to opt-out e-health records next year.
That shift was agreed to by the Council of Australian governments (COAG) and funded with $374.2 million in the latest federal budget in a bid to overcome poor rates of adoption of e-health records.
This will see a My Health Record automatically created for every Australian by the end of 2018 unless an individual chooses not to during a three month opt-out period that is currently planned for mid-2018.
The agency is yet to determine exactly when the opt-out period will take place.
“Planning is currently underway for implementation of technology and processes to support an individual to opt-out of having a My Health Record,” a spokesperson told iTnews.
Individuals that decide to opt-out of the system after this period won’t have their e-health record deleted, rather cancelled records will be archived and made inaccessible to the individual or healthcare providers.
The Department of Health’s special advisor on strategic health systems and information management Paul Madden told senate estimates in late May that this was to ensure that records could be easily restored if an individual was to change their mind.
The spokesperson also ruled out health practioners being able to override a citizen’s access preferences to gain access to archived e-health records in an emergency.
5.2 million Australians have already registered for a My Health Record, which currently contains more than 3 million clinical documents, and is connected to over 10,000 healthcare providers, including GPs, hospitals and pharmacies.