09 Mar 2023
Victorian Legislative Council


This bill presents an opportunity to enable individuals to access their health data electronically in a manner contemplated by the European Union general data protection regulation, which addresses their accessibility and portability, as such an approach would enable individuals to obtain their health data free of charge in a generally available, machine-readable form.

There are four main benefits to this: individuals could check the accuracy of their health information and correct it; individuals would be able to, at their option, share their health data with private sector providers, for example; patients would not have to access the expensive, time-consuming and complex FOI requirements to access their own information; and patients could use this information to identify any information that they do not wish to have shared or accessible. So my question, Minister, is: can you commit that this approach will be addressed and implemented prior to operationalising the electronic patient health information sharing system (EPHIS)?

Lizzie BLANDTHORN (Deputy Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council):

Thank you, Mr Ettershank, for your question. As we have talked about all day, really, this bill is an important road to improving health information sharing and protecting the privacy and security of the information for patients. Citizens, as we were just discussing with Mr Limbrick, can already access their own health information, and they will retain that capacity. Some health services already operate patient portals or can provide health information under Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner-specified informal arrangements. Victoria’s Digital Health
Roadmap details the government’s commitment to putting health information in the hands of citizens and, where indicated, their carers or their parents. The government will also work with all public health services to ensure that by the time EPHIS is operational there are mechanisms in place so that a patient’s individual health information will be available to them at that time without cost in an accessible and, where possible, machine-readable format without having to use freedom of information, as we were discussing earlier.


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