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Australia: AMA calls for national debate on data governance in health sector

The Australian Medical Association ('AMA') announced, on 3 February 2023, that it had called for a national debate on data governance in the health sector and stronger legislation to protect confidential patient health records, publishing a Position Statement with regard to the same. In particular, the position statement outlines the AMA's position on data governance and patient privacy, and states that the national discussion should be based on the General Data Protection Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) ('GDPR') in Europe and the UK GDPR and introduce transparent limits on how, when, and by whom patient data can be accessed. More specifically, the AMA called for adequate regulation to ensure patient privacy, and patient ownership of data is protected and enshrined in legislation, noting that the AMA does not support sharing health information with private health funds outside existing statutory schemes. As such, the AMA considered patients to be the owners of their health data, and that healthcare providers, private health insurance providers, and clinical software developers/operators are custodians of the same.

Moreover, the AMA urged the government to make it more difficult for confidentiality breaches to occur and subject 'health data custodians', including doctors, other healthcare providers, private health insurers, and clinical software developers/operators, to implement strong mechanisms to prevent security breaches, such as data hacking, or misuse of patient data.

You can read the press release here and the position statement here