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My Health Record Legislation Amendments Pass Senate

On 15 November the Senate passed the My Health Records Amendment (Strengthening Privacy) Bill 2018. The Bill will go back to the House of Representatives on 26 November and if passed in its current form, it will be assented and become law.

There are a number of amendments in the Bill that strengthen My Health Record's privacy and security protections. Briefly, the changes will:

  • Explicitly prohibit access to My Health Records by insurers and employers
  • Provide greater privacy for teenagers 14 years and over
  • Strengthen existing protections for people at risk of family and domestic violence.
  • Allow Australians to permanently delete their records, and any backups, at any time
  • Clarify that only the Agency, the Department of Health and the Chief Executive of Medicare (and no other government agency) can access the My Health Record system 
  • Make clear that the system cannot be privatised or used for commercial purposes
  • Make the principles contained in the Framework to guide secondary uses of data law

This will be backed up by harsher penalties and fines for inappropriate or unauthorised use.

A summary of the changes is available on the My Health Record website.

National Opt-out Period: what this means for our region 

Most people in the Nepean Blue Mountains region had a My Health Record created for them in 2016, as part of a trial. For the rest of Australia, 31 January 2019 marks the end of the opt-out period for the Federal Government’s My Health Record national expansion program

If your patients have a Record and no longer want one, they can cancel it at any time (they cannot opt-out). To cancel, patients access their record through their 'MyGov' account and find the ‘Cancel My Health Record’ button under the ‘Profile' menu, or they can call the My Health Record Helpline on 1800 723 471. If someone wishes to cancel their My Health Record now, personal identification documents will be required with the cancellation request (Medicare or DVA card plus driver licence, passport, or ImmiCard).  If a patient subsequently wishes to have a My Health Record they will need to create a new one.

Patients who opted-out during the trial do not need to opt-out again from the national expansion. The Australian Digital Health Agency retains their decision to opt-out from the program.

Those who are new to the region since July 2016, will join the rest of Australia in making a decision as to whether having a My Health Record is the right choice for them. During the opt-out period (16 July 2018 - 31 January 2019) these people can opt-out by visiting the My Health Record website or by calling the My Health Record Helpline on 1800 723 471.

eHealth Incentive or ePIP calculations

How to make sure the minimum requirements for payment of the eHealth Incentive or ePIP is met

Existing practices: 

The minimum shared health summary upload target is calculated using your practice’s Standardised Whole Patient Equivalent (SWPE). Every quarter your practice is sent a Payment Advice which advises your current SWPE count.

The SWPE count provided in your last Payment Advice is the SWPE value used to calculate your shared health summary upload target for the forthcoming quarter. To determine your practice’s minimum upload target, multiply the SWPE in your Payment Advice by 0.5%.

For example, the calculation for a practice with a SWPE of 5,000 would be 5,000 x 0.5% = minimum shared health summary upload target of 25.

New and small practices:

If your practice is new to PIP or has a SWPE of less than 1,000 your practice will be given a default SWPE level of 1,000 to determine the minimum number of shared health summaries that are required to be uploaded.

This equates to a minimum shared health summary upload target of 5 per quarter. The default SWPE is only used to calculate your minimum shared health summary upload target and is not used to calculate any PIP payments.

Where the specific target calculated is not a whole number, targets will be rounded down.

How much is the incentive:

The current payment rate is $6.50 per SWPE per annum, up to the cap of $12,500 per quarter ($50,000 per annum) and will be made retrospectively each quarter to practices that adhere to the eligibility requirements for the entire payment quarter.

New My Health Record Training and User Guide

To assist practices, we have developed a My Health Record Training and User Guide which will be delivered to practices by Practice Support or Digital Health staff during March and April 2018.

In addition to instructions on the use of My Health Record, this guide contains a place to record your security certificates and SWPE to assist you in monitoring uploads to meet the quarterly targets.

In late 2017, NSW Health made results of pathology tests conducted in Nepean Blue Mountains hospitals available in My Health Record. This gives all primary care providers (GPs, pharmacists, allied health and specialists) registered with My Health Record access to their patients' results recorded during a hospital stay.

Pathology and Diagnostic Imaging Reports in My Health Record

Pathology and diagnostic imaging services are now able to add their reports to a patient's My Health Record. 

This means that you, your patient and other healthcare providers involved in their care will have access a patient’s results in their My Health Record wherever and whenever they are needed, regardless of the healthcare provider who has ordered them.

Hospitals in the Nepean Blue Mountains region are already uploading pathology and diagnostic imaging reports, while private radiology and pathology groups are gradually introducing this feature as they become connected to My Health Record.

How does it work?

Pathology and diagnostic imaging reports will still be sent directly to you using existing processes. If your patient has a My Health Record, the report will also be uploaded to their Record and will be immediately available to other members of the patient’s healthcare team, who have access to My Health Record. The patient is only able to view their report after seven days. This gives you time to review the report and, if necessary, contact your patient to discuss the results before they can see them in their My Health Record.

The patient has control over whether a report is uploaded to their My Health Record by:

  • ticking the 'Do not send reports to My Health Record' box on the referral form
  • asking you to tick the 'Do not send reports to My Health Record' box in your practice management software. 

More information:

To register your practice for My Health Record, call 4708 8100.