Privacy

Current as of: April 2019

Introduction

This privacy policy is to provide information to you, our patient, on how your personal information (which includes your health information) is collected and used within our practice, and the circumstances in which we may share it with third parties.

Why and when your consent is necessary

When you register as a patient of our practice, you provide consent for our GPs and practice staff to access and use your personal information, so they can provide you with the best possible healthcare. Only staff that need to see your personal information will have access to it. If we need to use your information for anything else, we will seek additional consent from you to do this. 

Why do we collect, use, hold and share your personal information?

Our practice will need to collect your personal information to provide healthcare services to you. Our main purpose for collecting, using, holding and sharing your personal information is to manage your health. We also use it for directly related business activities, such as financial claims and payments, practice audits and accreditation, and business processes (e.g. staff training). 

What personal information do we collect?

The information we will collect about you includes your:

  • Names, date of birth, addresses, contact details
  • Health fund details
  • Medical information including medical history, medications, allergies, adverse events, immunisations, social history, family history and risk factors

How your personal information is communicated

Your personal information is corresponded via several communication modes including:

  • Fax
  • Australia Post
  • Courier
  • Secure Messaging Services
  • Email (not a preferred method)

It is the practice's policy that we do not send patient information via email (or accept correspondences) as the identity of the patient cannot be verified.  If a patient wishes to communicate with the practice via email, they are required to have their consent recorded in their file.  It is also preferable that the patient forwards an email to the practice confirming the email address they wish communications to be directed to.

For privacy reasons, the preferred communication method with other practitioners and specialists is via Medical Objects.  This practice utilises Medical Objects Secure Messaging as the means for real time point-to-point communication of clinical correspondence between medical practitioners and specialists.

If a specialist or practitioner does not use Medical Objects, then communication is sent via Fax, Australia Post or Courier.  

Who is your personal information is shared with?

Your personal information is important to our practice, and therefore we take your privacy and your medical information seriously.  No information is shared without your knowledge and consent.  Your medical information will be sent in correspondences such as referrals to other doctors, specialists or hospitals.  We may also request and receive medical information from other practices and specialists, however, we will only do so once we have a signed request or release of information form from you which states your Name, Address, Date of Birth or other identifying information.  If we are unsure of the information request received, we will follow up with both the requesting practice and with the patient to confirm the request.

Dealing with us anonymously

You have the right to deal with us anonymously or under a pseudonym unless it is impracticable for us to do so or unless we are required or authorised by law to only deal with identified individuals. 

How do we collect your personal information?

Our practice may collect your personal information in several different ways.

  1. When you make your first appointment our practice staff will collect your personal and demographic information via your registration.
  2. During the course of providing medical services, we may collect further personal information. This may be collected through electronic transfer of prescriptions (eTP), or My Health Record (e.g. via Shared Health Summary, Event Summary, etc.)
  3. We may also collect your personal information when you visit our website, send us an email or SMS, telephone us, or make an online appointment.
  4. In some circumstances personal information may also be collected from other sources. Often this is because it is not practical or reasonable to collect it from you directly. This may include information from:
  • Your guardian or responsible person
  • Other involved healthcare providers, such as specialists, allied health professionals, hospitals, community health services and pathology and diagnostic imaging services
  • Your health fund, Medicare, or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (as necessary)

When, why and with whom do we share your personal information?

We sometimes share your personal information:

  • With third parties who work with our practice for business purposes, such as accreditation agencies or information technology providers – these third parties are required to comply with APPs and this policy
  • With other healthcare providers
  • When it is required or authorised by law (e.g. court subpoenas)
  • When it is necessary to lessen or prevent a serious threat to a patient’s life, health or safety or public health or safety, or it is impractical to obtain the patient’s consent
  • To assist in locating a missing person
  • To establish, exercise or defend an equitable claim
  • For the purpose of confidential dispute resolution process
  • When there is a statutory requirement to share certain personal information (e.g. some diseases require mandatory notification)
  • during the course of providing medical services, through eTP, My Health Record (e.g. via Shared Health Summary, Event Summary)

Only people who need to access your information will be able to do so. Other than in the course of providing medical services or as otherwise described in this policy, our practice will not share personal information with any third party without your consent.

We will not share your personal information with anyone outside Australia (unless under exceptional circumstances that are permitted by law) without your consent.

Our practice will not use your personal information for marketing any of our goods or services directly to you without your express consent. If you do consent, you may opt out of direct marketing at any time by notifying our practice in writing.

How do we store and protect your personal information?

Your personal information may be stored at our practice in various forms, including as paper records, electronic records, and visual records (X-rays, CT scans, videos and photos).

Our practice stores all personal information securely.  Our electronic records are password protected, hard copy files are stored in a secured environment and all staff and contractors are required to sign confidentiality agreements before obtaining access to these records.

How can you access and correct your personal information at our practice?

You have the right to request access to, and correction of, your personal information.

Our practice acknowledges patients may request access to their medical records. We require you to put this request in writing (please ask reception staff for our information request process) and our practice will respond within 30 days. Obtaining access to your entire patient record may incur a processing fee.

Our practice will take reasonable steps to correct your personal information where the information is not accurate or up to date. From time to time, we will ask you to verify that your personal information held by our practice is correct and current. You may also request that we correct or update your information, and you should make such requests in writing via our reception staff.

How can you lodge a privacy-related complaint, and how will the complaint be handled at our practice?

We take complaints and concerns regarding privacy seriously. You should express any privacy concerns you may have in writing. We will then attempt to resolve it in accordance with our resolution procedure. You may contact us via email at reception@toowoombamedicalcentre.com.au, via post at Toowoomba Medical Centre, 146 Drayton Road, Toowoomba, QLD 4350, or phone (07) 4635 6111. We will respond to your complaint or concern within 30 days.

You may also contact the OAIC. Generally, the OAIC will require you to give them time to respond before they will investigate. For further information visit www.oaic.gov.au or call the OAIC on 1300 363 992.

Privacy and our website

When using our practice website to request an appointment you are required to enter some personal details for our staff to contact you to arrange and confirm an appropriate appointment time.  The information that is collected from this website is only disclosed to this practice and is stored under the same conditions as any other information collected.  

Policy review statement

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. We will endeavour to notify our patients of updated privacy policies via notices at reception and in our waiting room.