Policy & Submission

From time to time AIVL contributes the national drug user perspective to Government and Government Departments. A selection of submissions from AIVL’s work can be found below:

13th November 2018

Joint 1-pager re: My Health record opt-out deadline from AIVL, AFAO, Hepatitis Australia, Scarlet Alliance and NAPWHA.

7 November 2018

HEADS UP: 15 NOVEMBER DEADLINE TO OPT-OUT OF ‘MY HEALTH RECORD’

WHAT’S THIS ABOUT?

In short, this is a classic story about the road to hell being paved with good intentions.

‘My Health Record’ is a new online summary of your key health information.  The idea being that whether you’re visiting a GP for a check-up – or in an emergency room following an accident and are unable to talk – healthcare providers involved in your care will be able to access important health information about things like allergies, medicines you are taking etc. that are relevant to your care.

This will be especially useful for groups such as children and older people who may have impaired comprehension and/or communication.  The idea is that it will help make sure that people get the right treatment and avoidable mistakes are prevented in heathcare settings.

WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?

AIVL’s concerns are focused on the potential for unintended consequences for people who use drugs.  

People who use drugs are already often confronted with stigma and discrimination in healthcare settings.  The implementation of My Health Record as it currently stands will mean that for many people, there will be a whole host of people in healthcare settings who will have access to a lot more information than previously.  

While in some cases this may be useful, there are many instances in which access to additional information may not be helpful and may indeed contribute to experiences of stigma and discrimination by people.

For instance, does a podiatrist need to know that a patient had a previous admission to a drug treatment program?  Such information is not likely to add value to the therapeutic intervention, but the knowledge of the disclosure could result in people not wanting to access services at all for fear of discriminatory treatment.  AIVL is worried that this could result in people who use drugs withdrawing from engagement with the health system and thereby experiencing more negative health outcomes over time.

As it currently stands, the proposed system also allows for information on individual My Health Records to be given to law enforcement agencies and other Government bodies without consent.

There are also particular concerns for people affected by family or domestic violence.  If you are in this situation it is very important that you visit the Government website to find out what extra precautions you can take to protect your family’s safety.   

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO?

If any of the issues raised above are a concern for you, you should consider opting out of the My Health Record system.

The deadline to opt out is 15 November 2018.  You can ‘opt out’ by going to https://www.myhealthrecord.gov.au/for-you-your-family/opt-out-my-health-record. You will need to provide identification (for example, driver’s licence and Medicare number).  If you don’t have the right identification cards or if you need help the number to call is 1800 723 471 – this is a Government number.