Our practice is committed to best practice in relation to the management of information we collect. This practice has developed a policy to protect patient privacy in compliance with the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (‘the Privacy Act’). Our policy is to inform you of:
- the kinds of information that we collect and hold, which, as a medical practice, is likely to be ‘health information’ for the purposes of the Privacy Act;
- how we collect and hold personal information;
- the purposes for which we collect, hold, use and disclose personal information;
- how you may access your personal information and seek the correction of that information;
- how you may complain about a breach of the Australian Privacy Principles and how we will deal with such a complaint;
- whether we are likely to disclose personal information to overseas recipients;
What kinds of personal information do we collect?
The type of information we may collect and hold includes:
- Your name, address, date of birth, email and contact details
- Medicare number , DVA number and other government identifiers, although we will not use these for the purposes of identifying you in our practice
- Other health information about you, including:
- notes of your symptoms or diagnosis and the treatment given to you
- your specialist reports and test results
- your appointment and billing details
- your prescriptions and other pharmaceutical purchases
- your genetic information
- your healthcare identifier
- any other information about your race, sexuality or religion, when collected by a health service provider
How do we collect and hold personal information?
We will generally collect personal information:
- from you directly when you provide your details to us. This might be via a face to face discussion, telephone conversation, and registration form
- from a person responsible for you
- from third parties where the Privacy Act or other law allows it – this may include, but is not limited to: other members of your treating team, diagnostic centres, specialists, hospitals, the My Health Record system, electronic prescription services, Medicare, your health insurer, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
Why do we collect, hold, use and disclose personal information?
In general, we collect, hold, use and disclose your personal information for the following purposes:
- to provide health services to you
- to communicate with you in relation to the health service being provided to you
- to comply with our legal obligations, including, but not limited to, mandatory notification of communicable diseases or mandatory reporting under applicable child protection legislation.
- to help us manage our accounts and administrative services, including billing, arrangements with health funds, pursuing unpaid accounts, management of our ITC systems
- for consultations with other doctors and allied health professional involved in your healthcare;
- to obtain, analyse and discuss test results from diagnostic and pathology laboratories
for identification and insurance claiming
- If you have a My Health Record, to upload your personal information to, and download your personal information from, the My Health Record system.
- Information can also be disclosed through an electronic transfer of prescriptions service.
- To liaise with government and regulatory bodies such as Medicare, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) (if you make a privacy complaint to the OAIC), as necessary.
Providing your information to third parties –
Your doctor will not disclose your personal health information to a third party (e.g., rehabilitation providers, insurance companies, solicitors and employers) unless:
- you have consented to the disclosure, or this disclosure is necessary because you are at risk of harm without treatment, and you are unable to give consent; for example, you might be unconscious after an accident, or
- your doctor is legally obliged to disclose the information (e.g., infectious diseases, suspected child abuse or a court order), or
- the information is necessary to obtain Medicare payments or other health insurance rebates, or the information is necessary for the doctors in the practice to carry out a review of their practice for the purpose of improving the quality of care provided, and the activity has been approved by government legislation or medical college. This provides safeguards to protect the confidentiality of the information provided, or there is an overriding public interest in the release of the information.
In any of the above cases, we will only provide information that is necessary to achieve the objective.
Using health information for research and quality improvement (medical) – We occasionally use (completely anonymous and de identified) patient health information in research projects to improve health care in the community.
Any information used for research or teaching purposes (including publications) will not be in a form that would allow you to be identified
How can you access and correct your personal information?
You have a right to seek access to, and correction of the personal information which we hold about you
For details on how to access and correct your health record, please contact our practice as noted below under ‘Contact Details’:
We will normally respond to your request within 30 days.
How do we hold your personal information?
Our staff are trained and required to respect and protect your privacy. We take reasonable steps to protect information held from misuse and loss and from unauthorised access, modification or disclosure. This includes:
- Our staff sign confidentiality agreements
- Our practice has document retention and destruction policies
- We store our records electronically and our Practice computers comply with RACGP security checklists
- We have a sound backup system and contingency plan to protect the practice from loss of data
- All computers are accessed by individual secure passwords.
- Members of our team have different levels of access to patient health information. (refer Section 6 computer information and security)
Privacy related questions and complaints
If you have any questions about privacy-related issues or wish to complain about a breach of the Australian Privacy Principles or the handling of your personal information by us, you may lodge your complaint in writing to (see below for details). We will normally respond to your request within 30 days.
If you are dissatisfied with our response, you may refer the matter to the OAIC:
Phone: 1300 363 992
Fax: +61 2 9284 9666
Post: GPO Box 5218
Sydney NSW 2001
Anonymity and pseudonyms
The Privacy Act provides that individuals must have the option of not identifying themselves, or of using a pseudonym, when dealing with our practice, except in certain circumstances, such as where it is impracticable for us to deal with you if you have not identified yourself.
We may disclose your personal information to the following overseas recipients:
- any practice or individual who assists us in providing services (such as where you have come from overseas and had your health record transferred from overseas or have treatment continuing from an overseas provider)
- overseas transcription services
- anyone else to whom you authorise us to disclose it
Updates to this Policy
This Policy will be reviewed from time to time to take account of new laws and technology, changes to our operations and other necessary developments. Updates will be displayed at our reception desk.
Contact details for privacy related issues
Practice Manager – Pittwater Family Practice
PO Box 697
MONA VALE NSW 2103
Phone: 02 9997 3911