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AMA supports Smartcard Taskforce's recommendations

27 February, 2007

The AMA shares the view of the Access Card Consumer and Privacy Taskforce that people will need to be careful and cautious about the information they volunteer to be stored on the proposed national Access Card, also known as the Smartcard.

AMA President, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, said the Taskforce’s recommendation for a two-tiered information storage system – Tier 1 for health emergency information and a PIN-protected second Tier with other information the cardholder chooses to store – is a sensible and practical way to meet privacy concerns.

“The AMA supports the recommendation that voluntary medical information should only be entered into the Access Card with verification by an approved medical practitioner,” Dr Haikerwal said.

“This is no different to the current process patients are required to undertake to obtain a Medic Alert bracelet or necklace.

“It protects patients by ensuring that in a medical and perhaps life-threatening emergency, vital reliable information is available to the medical team.

“We believe that having emergency health information not PIN-protected has minimal privacy implications, but maximum health benefits.

“People currently wear ‘Medic Alert’ bracelets or chains so that vital information that they want to share is readily visible and accessible in the event of an emergency.

“The inclusion of the information on the Access Card would not replace the ‘Medic Alert’ system, it would complement it.

“The Taskforce paper is another reminder that serious privacy concerns need to be addressed and worked through before the new Card becomes an acceptable reality.

“The AMA will continue to work with the Government and the Taskforce on the key health, medical and privacy concerns, including medico-legal issues and an agreed definition of the type of information that is ‘absolutely necessary’ to be on the proposed Tier 1 of the Card.”

The AMA will make a submission to the Taskforce in response to the 2nd Discussion Paper.