On Thursday 30 January 2020, Telstra Health and Research Australia co-hosted an event highlighting the vital role of digital technology in Australia’s changing health system. Research Australia members and Telstra Health partners from across the entire health and medical research pipeline convened to network and share their thoughts on this important subject over a drink to see in the new year.
Telstra Health’s Managing Director and Research Australia Board Director, Professor Mary Foley AM and Nadia Levin, Research Australia’s CEO and Managing Director, both spoke at the event sharing their views on the developing role of information technology in all aspects of health and health and medical research.
Professor Foley provided her insights on Telstra Health’s role supporting governments, health system managers, and healthcare providers to deliver high quality, equitable, and accessible care in an increasingly complex and specialised health system.
Nadia Levin highlighted the growing need for Australia’s health sector to utilise the many revolutionary benefits current and future digital information technologies can provide. Nadia gave examples from Research Australia’s members making ground-breaking progress in digital technology and later took a moment away from space medicine to focus on the patient, who is at the core of all health and medical research. Focusing on current health outcomes, Nadia acknowledged how something as simple as a digital sensor in an incontinence pad can positively impact a patient in aged care.
The evening included a Q&A session with an interactive audience wanting further discussion on the importance of addressing Australia’s health data privacy concerns. The Frontiers Health and Medical Research funding initiative was also a hot topic of discussion with attendees highlighting the need for greater acknowledgement of the innovative and research-based nature of digital information technology.
The commencement of the Opt Out period for the My Health Records (MHR) in July led to heightened concerns about privacy, and in particular the ability of law enforcement agencies and other third parties to obtain access to an individual’s MHR without a court order. The Government has introduced a Bill to amend the legislation and address this issue. Research Australia has made a submission to the Senate Inquiry considering the Bill. Research Australia supports the Bill and the need to ensure public confidence in the MHR.
My Health Record: Health and medical researchers welcome strengthened privacy
Australia’s health and medical research sector has welcomed Government moves to strengthen privacy protections of the My Health Record.
“Australians must be able to confidently participate in this scheme. Strengthening the My Health Record Act is an important first step in ensuring public trust in the system.
“People have real concerns over privacy and access of their My Health Record and those concerns must be heard and addressed through additional communications to the public about the benefits and purpose of the My Health Record. This is too important an opportunity to forego because of a lack of information,” said Research Australia’s CEO, Ms Levin.
An overnight poll of Research Australia members shows continued support from the health and medical research community for the My Health Record, with a majority of respondents in favour of the scheme.
Research Australia has written to Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, offering the assistance of health and medical researchers in explaining how My Health Record data could be used to further vital health and medical research and improve our health system.
Research Australia is the national peak body representing the whole of the health and medical research pipeline: www.researchaustralia.org