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Wednesday, 29 July 2009 10:41

AIIA proposes 'opt-out' plan for eHealth card

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Government may need to include an opt-out mechanism with its plans to assign an individual healthcare number to all Australians as the best way to address legitimate privacy security concerns, Australian Information Industries Association chief executive Ian Birks said.

“Essentially it is a good thing that electronic health records has been identified as a key to healthcare reform in Australia,” Mr Birks told iTWire.

Better information, better use of data and better awareness of the available health information would lead to better health outcomes for individuals and reduced costs for Government and providers.

But Birks said the only way to successfully address the privacy concerns of some would be to give individuals control over their personal data, including the ability to opt-out entirely.

“Obviously there will be concerns from some sections of the community about security and privacy,” Birks said. “And probably the best way to (make people confortable) would be through some kind of opt-out mechanism.”

“That’s what has happened in other jurisdictions and it has been shown to be successful.

“The privacy lobby in Australia puts out some realistic concerns. But the best way to address those concerns is to have an open discussion (of the concerns) and to try to balance the concerns with the benefits,” Birks said.

Overall, the AIIA welcomed the release of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission (NHHRC) recommendations, and its focus on the need for the widespread adoption of electronic healthcare initiatives across Australia.

The AIIA believes some of the existing roll-out plans for electronic health iniatives were conservative and could be accelerated. Birks said there was a need for an e-health summit involving key stakeholders “to inform the next steps based on these recommendations.”

“Implemented appropriately, these recommendations provide the foundation for electronic reform initiatives that will deliver better and faster medical and hospital care to patients and strong economic returns across the country,” Birks said.

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