Purpose

To ensure patients who receive care from the Practice are comfortable in entrusting their health information to the Practice. The policy provides information to patients as to how their personal information is collected and used within the Practice, and the circumstances in which we disclose it to third parties.

 

Related Standards

RACGP Compliance Indicators for the APP: an addendum to the computer and information security standards(Second edition)

 

Background and Rationale

The APP provide a privacy protection framework that supports the rights and obligations of collecting, holding, using, accessing and correcting personal information. The APP consist of 13 principle-bases laws and apply equally to paper based and digital environments. The APP Complement the long standing general practice obligation to manage personal information in a regulated, open and transparent manner.

 

This policy must be made available to patients upon request.

 

Practice Procedure

 

The Practice will:

  • Provide a copy of this policy upon request
  • Ensure staff comply with the APP and deal appropriately with enquiries or concerns
  • Take such steps as are reasonable in the circumstances to implement practices, procedures and systems to ensure compliance with the APP and deal with inquiries or complaints
  • Collect personal information for the primary purpose of managing a patients healthcare and for financial claims and payments.

Staff responsibility:

  • The Practices staff will take reasonable steps to ensure patients understand:
  • What information has been and is being collected
  • Why the information is being collected, and whether this is due to a legal requirement
  • How the information will be used or disclosed
  • Why and when their consent is necessary

The practices procedures for access and correction of information, and responding to complaints of information breaches, including by providing this policy.

 

Patient Consent

The Practice will only interpret and apply a patients consent for the primary purpose for which it was provided. The Practice staff must seek additional consent from the patient if the personal information collected may be used for any other purpose.

 

Collection of information

The Practice will need to collect personal information as a provision of clinical services to a patient at the practice. Collected personal information will include patients:

 

  • Names, addresses and contact details
  • Medicare number (where available) for identification and claiming purposes
  • Healthcare identifiers
  • Medical information including medical history, medications, allergies, adverse event, immunization, social history, family history and risk factors.
  • A patients personal information may held in at the Practice in various forms:
  • As paper records
  • As electronic records
  • As visual- x-rays, CT scans, videos and photos.
  • As audio recording

The Practices procedure for collecting personal information is set out below.

  • Practice staff collect patients personal and demographic information via registration when patients present to the practice for initial visit. Patients are encouraged to pay attention to  the information about the management of collected  information and patient privacy.
  • During the course of providing medical services, the Practices healthcare practitioners will consequently  collect further personal information.
  • Personal information may also be collected from the patients guardian or responsible person (where necessary and practical), or from any other involved healthcare specialist.

The Practice holds all personal information securely, whether in electronic format, in protected information systems or in hard copy format in a secured environment.

 

Use and disclosure of information

Personal information will only be used for the purpose of providing medical services and for claims and payments, unless otherwise consented to. Some disclosure may occur to third parties engaged for the Practice for business purposes, such as accreditation or for the provision of information technology. The Practice will inform the patient where there is a statutory requirement to disclose certain personal information (for example some diseases require mandatory notification)

The Practice will not disclose personal information to any third party other than in the course of providing medical services, without full disclosure to the patient or the recipient, the reason for transfer and full consent of the patient. The Practice will not disclose personal information to anyone outside of Australia without need and without patient consent.

 

 

Exceptions to disclose without patient consent are where the information is:

  • Required by law
  • Necessary to lessen or prevent a serious threat to a patients life, health or safety of the public health, or it is impractical to obtain the patients consent
  • To assist in locating a missing person
  • To establish, exercise or defend an equitable claim.
  • For the purpose of a confidential dispute resolution process.

The Practice will not use any personal information in relation to direct marketing to a patient without that patients express consent. Patients may opt-out direct marketing at any time by notifying the Practice in a letter or e-mail.
The Practice evaluates all unsolicited information it receives to decide if it should be kept, acted on or destroyed.

 

Access, corrections and Privacy Concerns

The Practice acknowledges patient may request access to their medical records. Patients are encouraged to make this request in writing and the Practice will respond in a reasonable time.
The Practice will take reasonable steps to correct personal information where it is satisfied they are not accurate or up to date. Patients may also request the Practice corrects or updates their information, and patients should make such requests in writing.

 

The Practice takes complaints and concerns about the privacy of patients personal information seriously. Patients should express any privacy concerns in writing. The Practice will then attempt to resolve it in accordance with its complaints resolution procedure.

 

Related resources

Compliance indicators for the APP: An addendum to the computer and information securities standards (second edition)
RACGP Computer and information security standards (CISS) 2013
The RACGP Privacy handbook and patient pamphlet