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E-Health Privacy Debate Continues

HEALTHCARE PRIVACY—AUSTRALIA

September 23, 2010

The federal government plans to introduce shared electronic health records by July 1, 2012, The Sydney Morning Herald reports, but privacy advocates remain concerned, citing the use of 16-digit health identifiers and the potential for widespread access to patient information. Privacy advocates are concerned that the identity numbers "have been rolled out without any consent from patients and with little understanding of how they might be used," the report states, and "fear the identity number will be a magnet for 'function creep,' with future governments and even private organisations unable to resist using it as gold-standard ID in areas other than health, such as taxation or banking." Advocates of e-health note, however, that "the present system has privacy holes in it anyway."
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