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Monday, November 09, 2009

It Seems The Secret Documents are To Remain Secret! What is Going On?

This appeared on the Australian IT Web Site on the 3rd of November, 2009.

Secret e-health reports to be released

  • Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • November 03, 2009 4:00PM

AS the Rudd government prepares legislation to support the introduction of a national healthcare identity scheme linked to Medicare numbers, three separate investigations on privacy concerns conducted over the past three years are finally to be made public.

The privacy impact assessments -- by Galexia, in 2006; Clayton Utz, in March 2008, and Mallesons Stephen Jaques in August this year -- will be posted by the National E-Health Transition Authority, together with its response to each.

According to a NEHTA spokeswoman, the documents will be online "as soon as possible".

Consumer groups have been calling for the release of the documents as part of a protest against secrecy and lack of consultation over plans for a nationwide system for electronic sharing of patients' medical records.

Juanita Fernando, convenor of the Consumer-Centred E-Health Coalition formed in August, said she hoped the move "signalled government intentions to take consumer feedback on board and kickstart a rational debate about e-health implementations''.

The Mallesons study, provided to The Australian, warns there is "a very significant risk" that the community will view individual healthcare identifiers as "a rebranded welfare Access Card or a new Australia Card''.

It recommends "a transparent and public process for considering privacy and other impacts'', including the government "erring on the side of greater restrictions on uses'' of the number, rather than "greater flexibility in adding new uses''.

"Consideration should be given to imposing explicit restrictions on the use of the identifier and other data for non-healthcare-related purposes,'' it says.

Mallesons also recommends that consideration be given to establishing a separate, statutory, healthcare identifier authority, "which could subcontract the issuing of individual identifiers and operation of the service to Medicare, under the authority's supervision".

More here:

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/australian-it/secret-e-health-reports-to-be-released/story-e6frgakx-1225793984983

It is clear the Australian has the documents and have provided a useful summary of the key points so one has to wonder why the public release is taking so long?

From what the Australian says there is going to need to be a good deal of work and policy thought given to this to get this even close to right.

It has always amazed me why drafts of each of these three documents were not released for public discussion before finalisation. The process of getting things done right would then have been shorter I believe.

David.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

What evidence do you have that these documents are now going to remain secret. Surely you should give the bureaucracy two or three weeks to get them up on the web. Before doing so they will need to double check with the parties that commissioned the reports and make sure there is nothing untoward in them. And they need to do all this in the midst of the wave of Christmas parties and other festivities now descending upon them. Of course, if Christmas gets in the way it may not be until sometime in February before they can be released. Do you have some information that says they are now not going to be released?

Dr David More MB, PhD, FACHI said...

Call this some mild prodding to get on with it. The Australian has the documents - so why not the rest of us. It takes me 5 mins to put a pdf of a report up. Why should it take NEHTA any longer after they have said they are going to release them?

David.

Anonymous said...

Methinks you'll need more than a cattle prod with that lot. A Tazar gun might get a speedier result.