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Whose health record: Australian Unions submission to Senate Inquiry into the My Health Record system

Australian Unions has raised concerns with the My Health Record system and its possible implications for workers.

Although there are plenty of benefits of My Health Record, Unions point out the following concerns:

Employer-nominated doctors – and by extension employers – to have access to job seekers’ medical history during pre-employment medical assessments or regular employer sponsored medical examinations/assessments;

Employer/insurance company-nominated doctors to have access to injured workers’ unrelated medical history, such as during independent medical examinations required under workers compensation laws; and

Health information recorded in the My Health Record to be disclosed for ‘secondary use purposes’ under control of a Governance Board which has not yet been established.

Find the submission below.

sub17_ACTU

Read  case studies from the ACTU submission below.

Case studies:

Case Study 1 – Pre-Employment
Manisha is an office worker who in an old job needed to take 6 weeks off for stress that was approved by her private doctor, who also prescribed some medication that is commonly associated with mild depression. Manisha returned to work 18 months ago and has worked
successfully ever since. Manisha is looking to progress her career and is applying for a new job and the company she is seeking work with has a medical doctor in house or available to them for advice. Manisha has a great resume and impressed in the interviews and the company is on the verge of hiring her.

The company performs a My Health Record check on Manisha as part of their standard preemployment checks before hiring new staff. The company doctor sees that Manisha took stress leave and depression medication as part of her digital My Health Record and reports it to the company who then decide not to hire Manisha.

Case Study 2 – Employment
5 years ago Shinji went through a period of using illicit drugs on the weekends. There was no impact on his workplace performance. He eventually decided to stop using and sought help from a doctor who prescribed medication as part of a rehabilitation program which Shinji successfully completed and has been ‘clean’ ever since. Shinji attends an annual free medical provided by his employer. It is understood that any information relevant to Shinji’s employment arising from the
consultation will be passed on to Shinji’s employer. Shinji’s medical history as part of his My Health Record includes medication related to his recovery treatment and is made known to the employer. They have flagged Shinji for increased drug tests at work as a result and will keep a close eye on his performance and behaviour.

Case Study 3 – Workers Compensation
Hamid injured his right arm at work and is entitled to workers’ compensation entitlements, both lump sum and payments to cover ongoing medical treatment.
The insurance company doctor accesses Hamid’s My Health Record and discovers that Hamid injured his right arm 8 years ago playing footy on the weekend but was left with no real residual deficit. The insurance company then uses the information accessed via My Health Record as the basis for claiming a reduction to Hamid’s payout and ongoing assistance because they argue Hamid already has a pre-existing medical condition with his right arm.

We believe that many workers would, if they were aware these scenarios were possible, strongly object to their employer potentially gaining access to their detailed health records. While the My Health Record system Submission 17 4 government has attempted to deny that such access is possible4, citing the Healthcare Identifiers Act 2010 (Cth) (HI Act), the ACTU has received legal advice that such assertions are optimistic at best due to issues with both the HI Act and the MHR system design. These specific issues, and others, are explored in the next section of this submission.

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