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My Health Record benefits travelling seniors - peak body

Australia’s peak body representing the interests of older people, Council of the Ageing (COTA) Australia, has urged retirees travelling Australia to consider the benefits of a My Health Record.

NSW couple Lorraine and Ray Gardner say having My Health Records being peace of mind when travelling. (Source: Australian Digital Health Agency)
NSW couple Lorraine and Ray Gardner say having My Health Records being peace of mind when travelling. (Source: Australian Digital Health Agency)

My Health Record is a digital collection of reports relating to your health, such as prescriptions, doctors records, imaging and other test results. A My Health Record will be created for every Australian from tomorrow unless you decide to opt out. The data that will be added isn't new, but currently stored separately by Medicare, your doctor, hospital or other health professionals. My Health Record simply saves all the information in one place and you can view your own information as well.

You can permanently delete your record at any time and if you change your mind, you can also re-register for one in the future.

Amid concerns about the security and accessibility of people’s records, the Government introduced further legislative amendments in November last year following a Senate inquiry to ensure the privacy of information in the system. Changes included tougher penalties for those who misuse the system, such as increased jail time, larger fines, and prohibiting employers from requesting and using information from someone’s My Health Record file.

COTA Chief Executive Ian Yates says having your details registered on My Health Record can come in handy when travelling.   

“It gives you access to your medical history — and having this kind of information at your fingertips when travelling is important and convenient,” Mr Yates says.

Living on the road means visiting a new doctor is sometimes necessary, as North Richmond couple Ray and Lorraine Gardner discovered when they started travelling.

“We used to always print out our records of what medication we took, what operations, but when My Health Record came along ... we thought it was the best thing” Mr Gardner says.

The couple say that having a My Health Record means they can share important health information — including prescriptions, test results, allergies and any other information they choose to upload — with new doctors, pharmacists or health professionals while travelling.

“With My Health Record, the big plus I find is that when we’re travelling — Lorraine, being allergic to penicillin, if she’s in a hospital, and they know her name, and they can look up the records ... they’re not going to give her penicillin,” Mr Gardner says.

“If you’re travelling, the doctor doesn’t know you, or the hospital doesn’t know you. But if they can look it up, I think it’s a big plus.”

Chief Medical Advisor for the Australian Digital Health Agency Professor Meredith Makeham says My Health Record means your information is ready and waiting online if you are unable to explain your situation in an emergency.

“In an emergency, clinicians knowing about your healthcare conditions can be lifesaving,” she says.

Mrs Gardner has having a My Health Record helps give her peace of mind so she can get on with enjoying her holidays.

“Even if you are a young person with no children, it doesn’t matter ... it’s definitely good, especially if you have an accident."

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