Despite the recent controversy over privacy and census data, it's been revealed that Australians are actually almost universally okay with sharing their personal data - provided if it's kept safe and will be used positively.

According to a poll from Roy Morgan Research 91 per cent of Australians would be willing to share their de-identified medical data, if it went towards research purposes.

“The Australian health system has not effectively supported the collection and use of health data for research purposes in the past – and what we are saying is that the privacy considerations and other barriers can be overcome with enormous benefits as a result," said Research AUstralia CEO, Nadia Levin.

Ms Levin said that with a broader update of My Health records (of which 4.1 million Australians have), we will see more data available and less reliance on paper records – all part of a contemporary society that uses accessible and available technology to achieve the best possible outcomes

“Whilst privacy has been raised as an issue in e-health, this data shows that if data can be protected and is used to improve the health system, Australians support it,” she said.

“What scientists and researchers need is data to develop new treatments and to track changes in the rise and fall of diseases over time,” said Research Australia CEO, Nadia Levin.

“Right now there are trials underway in the Blue Mountains and North Queensland of an opt-out rather than opt-in system for My Health records, and that holds great promise for researchers and for improving the health of all Australians."

The poll also showed that the community is increasingly turning to technology to improve health outcomes, and is willing to share that information with medical researchers.

According to the poll, one in five Australians (19%) say they use an activity tracking device like a fitbitTM daily or nearly daily to track their activity, and three quarters of regular device users would share the data if they could not be individually identified.

The poll also shows patients use the internet as an additional medical information source, and are open to being referred to reliable sites from doctors.

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