My Health Record and child protection

This advice provides information on the My Health Record system, previously known as the personally controlled electronic health record system or eHealth, and how this relates to clients of child protection.

Document ID number 2430, version 1, published 25 August 2017.

Introduction

The Commonwealth has developed a procedure which provides instruction for child protection on the My Health Record system, including how to establish if a child has a record, to register a child or young person for a record and to remove an individual from a record. See forms – child protection agencies interaction with the My Health Record System.

What is eHealth?

My Health records, introduced in 2012, are an electronic summary of a person’s key health information, drawn from existing health records.

The current system is an opt-in scheme, and allows the record to be accessed by the individual to whom it relates and by healthcare providers involved in their care. A feature of the record allows a person to appoint a nominated representative(s), and for children and those incapable of managing their own My Health Record, an authorised representative(s). A nominated or authorised representative(s) can access the content of the relevant person’s record, which may include information such as e-referrals, discharge summaries, medical history and immunisations.

What are the benefits of My Health Record?

  • Health information is stored in one place.
  • It can build responsibility in young people to manage their own record.
  • It can assist health providers dealing with the care of an individual.
  • It could provide a comprehensive health history for young people leaving care.

What are the risks of My Health Record?

  • It may not include all health information for an individual.
  • Health practitioners treating an individual may not participate in the scheme and therefore would not be in a position to update health information. This places the responsibility on the record holder to update information.
  • Individuals, including parents, may have access to a child or young person’s record when this is no longer appropriate and may pose a risk.
  • Young people who manage their own record may allow access to individuals considered inappropriate by child protection and other services, or delete information best retained.

The interface between My Health Record and child protection

As the system currently operates as an opt-in scheme and the low number of the general population across Australia with a My Health Record, it is believed the majority of child protection clients do not have a record.

Nonetheless, it is important to enquire whether a child has a My Health Record as part of the health questions asked during the course of child protection intervention, and to record this information on CRIS.

Should there be any change in the child’s circumstances, for example, if they are placed in court ordered out-of-home care, and it is no longer appropriate for an individual (including a parent) to have access to the record, ensure timely action is taken.

See forms – child protection agencies interaction with the My Health Record System for instruction on this process, and tasks that must be undertaken.

Considerations for good practice

If the child or young person is subject to a Children’s Court order where parents retain parental responsibility, such as a family preservation order or family reunification order, a discussion around My Health Record should occur, and assistance should be provided to establish a record if required.

If the child or young person is subject to a Children’s Court order where the Secretary has exclusive parental responsibility, such as a care by Secretary order or long-term care order, the allocated child protection practitioner should discuss My Health Record with the child or young person (and parents or carers where appropriate) and ensure they register the child or young person for a record if this is appropriate.

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