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".
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.