As Australia’s largest privately owned healthcare group, Healthe Care Australia is committed to safeguarding the privacy of patient information. Healthe Care, our doctors, nurses and other staff are bound by, the Australian Privacy Principles contained in the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and other privacy laws and by a strict code of conduct that govern how private sector health service providers collect, use, disclose and store your personal and sensitive (health) information.
You can read more about these laws on the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner's website.
This page of our website details what personal information we will hold about you as a patient at one of our hospitals, how you can access this information and the purposes for which your personal information is used and disclosed.
Information we collect
We collect your personal details and medical history so we can provide you with medical treatment and advice. Test results and further information collected while you are being treated in hospital are kept with your medical record.
We only collect information that is reasonably necessary for your treatment and to help manage your care. The management of your care involves provision of your health information to members of your treating team (e.g. your private doctor, physiotherapist, nurses) and potentially to other health service providers (e.g. pathology and imaging where a test is ordered by your doctor). While the hospital maintains its own paper-based medical record, some of the information stored electronically is linked on an organisation basis.
We take all reasonable steps to ensure information we collect about you is accurate, complete and up-to-date. Patients can request incorrect information be amended.
We take reasonable steps to ensure information we collect about you is stored securely. We are required by law to retain medical records for certain periods of time depending on the type of record and facility.
Information we collect may include:
- Date of birth
- Contact numbers
- Financial details (e.g. health fund details, person responsible for the account)
- Health history
- Family history
- Information that we consider necessary to assist our staff in your diagnosis and treatment
Why this information is collected
If you are to receive, or have received, a service from any Healthe Care facility, we will collect and hold your personal information to:
- Provide the required treatment, service and advice
- Administer and manage those services, including charging, billing and debt collection
- Contact you to provide advice or information relating to your treatment
- Conduct appropriate health insurance eligibility checks
- Improve the quality of our services through research and development
- Conduct regular surveys to gain an understanding of individual needs
- Maintain and develop business systems and infrastructure to improve the services we provide
How this information is collected
We will ordinarily collect your personal information directly from you. This may take place when you complete Admission or Administrative paperwork. It may also occur via the hospital admission process, through the doctor's rooms or over the telephone.
Sometimes we may also need to collect information from third parties (e.g. a relative, power of attorney, employer or other health services provider), if it is unreasonable or impracticable to collect it from you (e.g. in the case of an emergency).
In the event that you do not have capacity to provide consent to treatment, we will need to provide information about your condition to your substitute decision-maker to allow that person to make decisions on your behalf. We may also disclose information about your condition to persons who are responsible for you where this is necessary to provide appropriate care to you or on compassionate grounds. If you do not want your personal information disclosed to a particular person, please let us know.
To facilitate continuation of your care following discharge, it is our practice to disclose personal information to your nominated General Practitioner. If you do not want your personal information disclosed to your nominated General Practitioner, please let us know.
Consequences of not providing personal information
If you do not wish for us to collect certain information, you will need to tell us so we can discuss any consequences this may have for your health care. If you do not provide us with certain personal information, this may impact on our ability to provide you with quality care.
Use and disclosure of personal information
We will use and disclose your information for purposes directly related to your treatment and in ways you would reasonably expect for your ongoing care. This may include, but is not limited to the transfer of relevant information to your nominated GP, to another treating health service or hospital, to a specialist for a referral, for pathology tests and Xrays.
The main purpose of collecting information about you is to provide ongoing medical treatment and advice.
We are required to disclose some information to State and Commonwealth Government agencies to comply with laws regarding the reporting of notifiable diseases and statistics. Your personal information may be required as evidence in court when subpoenaed.
If there has been a break in the continuity of patient care, we might need to seek your consent before releasing information to a new doctor or health professional. If the situation is an emergency, consent is not required.
We cannot use your information for direct marketing purposes unless you provide authorisation.
Our staff may convey to your next of kin or a close family member, general information about your condition while in hospital, in accordance with the accepted customs of medical practice, unless you request otherwise.
Our policies and procedures ensure our staff treat your information confidentially and discreetly.
Healthe Care does not ordinarily disclose patient personal information to entities overseas. You may direct us to do so if, for example, your health insurer is based outside of Australia. Privacy regulations in other countries may not be as strict as in Australia.
Storing personal information
We store personal information in a variety of ways, including paper and electronic formats.
The security of information is important to Healthe Care. Our staff are responsible for maintaining the security of patient information from unauthorised access, to misuse, loss and damage.
Access to your information
You are entitled to request access to all personal information including your medical record held by the service. Normally you will be asked to apply for access in writing and provide identification. You may be charged a fee for copies of your personal information or medical records.
Access to personal information may be declined in special circumstances, such as where giving access would put you or another person at risk of harm, or if it would unreasonably impact on someone else's privacy.
If you believe the information we hold about you is incorrect and an error has been made, please let us know and we will correct the information. If we believe the information is correct, you may request that your view be noted on the record.
Requests for access to or correction of your medical record should be addressed to your health service provider's Medical Record Department.
If you have questions about the privacy of your information or if you have a complaint, you should Contact Us and ask to speak with the hospital's Director of Nursing. Alternatively, you can contact the Commonwealth Privacy Commissioner (Office of the Australian Information Commissioner).
If you would like more information about privacy in general, please refer to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner's website.