While other countries are increasingly using health data in clever ways, Australia is being left behind according to a recent article published in the Medical Republic . “This is a global phenomenon and Australia, to its detriment, is not yet participating,” the Productivity Commission said in its March 2017 commission’s report.
So what are Scandinavia’s secrets to safely unleashing the power of health data, and what’s stopping Australia from doing the same? According to the authors trust between citizens and government and high public service transparency are major factors. A very real culture of aversion and risk avoidance in the public sector is holding Australia back. A big worry is that identifiable health data would be released inappropriately, causing harm to patients, such as reputational damage or embarrassment, discrimination, identity fraud, or commercial harm.
Change may be on the way with The Productivity Commission’s Data Availability and Use report recommending that new legislation, the Data Sharing and Release Act, be passed before 2018. This would establish a “presumption of open data”, where all non-sensitive data would be made available as a matter of course.
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