Privacy Policy

Introduction

This privacy policy provides information to you, a patient being attended to by a practice operating from our facilities, on how your personal information (which includes your health information) is collected and used within that practice, and the circumstances in which that information may be shared with third parties.

 

Why and when your consent is necessary

When you register as a patient of a practice that operates from our facilities, you provide consent for the doctors of that practice and also the Eye Surgery Associates (ESA) staff to access and use your personal information so they can provide you with the best possible healthcare.  Whilst the practices that operate from our premises use a shared medical record, only the healthcare staff involved in your care and the ESA staff who need to see your personal information will have access to it.

 

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

It is necessary for those attending you to collect your personal information to provide healthcare services to you.  The main purpose for collecting, using, holding and sharing your personal information is to manage your healthcare.  ESA may also use your information for directly related business activities, such as managing financial claims and payments, practice audits and accreditation, and business processes (e.g. staff training).

Your health information may be used for secondary purposes such as research and audits.  If used for research purposes, no information that personally identifies you will be disclosed to any other party, without us first seeking your further consent. If you are deemed a suitable participant for a clinical research study/trial, we may contact you directly to discuss the possibility of your inclusion in the research study.

Health information used for audit purposes assists us to identify trends and benchmark performance with the aim of improving the services we offer.  The data that may be collected includes information such as the date and nature of any surgery and medical conditions.

 

What personal information do we collect?

The information we will collect about you includes, but is not limited to, your:

  • Names, date of birth, address, contact details, next of kin
  • Medical information including medical history, medications, allergies, and family history
  •  Medicare/DVA number (where available) for claiming purposes
  • Health fund and third party insurer details
  • Contact details for other healthcare providers involved in your care (e.g. GP, Optometrist, other specialists).
  • Via a specific consent form - contact details for others you authorise to enquire and receive communications with regarding your personal and medical history and care.

 

Clinical Photography

In some subspecialties, such as with oculoplastics, the doctor treating you may ask to take photographs to be kept as part of your medical record, for which your additional consent is requested.

  • The images are stored securely and privately and are part of your medical record.
  • The images are used for the purposes of clinical care, pre-operative and post-operative evaluation.
  • De-identified images may be used for the purposes of teaching and education of medical and optometry professionals, auditing and clinical research within the medical profession. For oculoplastic procedures, complete privacy cannot be guaranteed as the photographs are commonly of the eyes/face, which are distinguishing features that may make an image identifiable.
  • Images intended for research publications or publicity (e.g. brochures, advertising, websites) will not be used unless additional written permission has been obtained.
  • Access to your images is available by request at any stage.

Prospective patients often wish to see before and after example images as a helpful guide to assist in making a decision regarding surgery.

Specific consent is obtained from you to allow the sharing of images in this manner.  These images remain protected in the database, are not distributed and can only be viewed during a consultation with the doctor.

 

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.

In the medical context this is not likely to be practicable or possible for Medicare and insurance rebate purposes.  It could also be dangerous to your health.

 

How do we collect your personal information?

ESA and the medical practices operating from our facilities may collect your personal information in several different ways.

1.     When you make your first appointment our staff will collect your personal and demographic information over the phone and/or via your registration form.

2.     During the course of you receiving medical services, we may collect further personal information.

3.     We may also collect your personal information when you send us an email or SMS, telephone us, make an online enquiry or communicate with us using social media.

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 general practitioners, optometrists, 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)

 

5.     We may receive unsolicited personal information about you.  In a reasonable period after receiving the information, we will determine whether or not we could have collected the information from you in accordance with the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs).  For example, ESA often receives unsolicited personal information in the form of a referral from your medical practitioner or optometrist to see one of the doctors practicing out of our premises.

We may use or disclose the unsolicited personal information for the purposes of making a determination about accepting the referral.  If we determine that we could not have collected the personal information from you, i.e. the referral is addressed to the wrong practice/medical practitioner, as soon as practicable, and lawful and reasonable to do so, we will advise the sender and may destroy the information or ensure that the information is de-identified.

 

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

We sometimes share your personal information:

  • with third parties who work with our organisation for business purposes, such as accreditation agencies or information technology providers
  • with other healthcare providers (e.g. referring doctor/optometrist/specialist, hospital, anaesthetist)
  • 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 person’s life, health or safety or public health or safety
  •  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 the doctor consultation, we partner with providing medical services through eRx, SafeScript & 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, ESA 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 is permitted by law) without your consent.

Your health information may be used for research, trials and audits.  This research and statistical data may be presented at conferences overseas and/or published in international journals.  No information that personally identifies you will be disclosed outside of the doctor’s practice or ESA. Should information that may identify you be presented at a conference or in a journal, your express consent will be sought for this purpose.

We 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 us in writing.

We may use your personal information to improve the quality of the services that are offered to patients being attended to at our sites, through research and analysis of the patient data.

We may provide de-identified data to other organisations to improve population health outcomes. ESA will take reasonable steps to ensure that this information is secure, patients cannot be identified and the information is stored within Australia.

 

How do we store and protect your personal information?

Your personal information may be stored by us in various forms, e.g. paper records, electronic records, visual records (X-rays, CT scans, videos and photos), audio recordings (e.g. doctor dicta-typing).

We take reasonable steps to store all personal information securely. All electronic records are password protected, securely protected by electronic firewalls and monitored.  Access is by authorised personnel only, who are bound by confidentiality agreements.  Paper and visual records are securely stored.

Your privacy is important to us.  Whilst we take every appropriate measure to store and protect your personal information, in compliance with the Privacy Amendment (Notifiable Data Breaches) Act 2017, we will notify you and the Australian Information Commissioner when there is a data breach that is likely to result in serious harm to you.

A data breach occurs when personal information held by an organisation is lost or subjected to unauthorised access or disclosure.  Examples of a data breach include when:

  • a device containing patient/customer’s personal information is lost or stolen
  • a database containing personal information is hacked
  • personal information is mistakenly provided to the wrong person.

 

How can you access and correct your personal information?

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

We acknowledge patients may request access to their medical records. We require you to put this request in writing to the Group Administration Manager, and we will respond within 30 days.

All requests must be approved by the treating doctor.  Where access is denied or needs to be limited due to concerns about your health and wellbeing or that of another person, this will be discussed with you.  Other access options, such as a review of the record with the treating doctor, may be offered to you rather than providing you with a copy of the record. You will not be charged for making a request for access to your information; however, reasonable fees may be charged for providing the information to you (e.g. administration time in preparing the information and photocopying/printing records).

If you are requesting access to the information of another patient, we may not grant access without that person’s consent.  This can include access to a family member’s health information.  We recognise that adolescents may request that information about their health care is kept confidential.  This will be managed on a case by case basis as assessed by the treating doctor.

We 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 us is correct and current.  You may also request that we correct or update your information.

 

For further information or to lodge a privacy-related complaint

We hope our approach to your privacy is transparent and easy to understand.  If you would like clarification of anything in our privacy policy; wish to express any privacy concerns; or make a complaint, please do so in writing.

We will respond within 30 days of receiving your enquiry or complaint.

 

Please write to:

Group Administration Manager

Eye Surgery Associates

Level 2, 232 Victoria Parade

East Melbourne VIC 3002

info@eyesurgery.com.au

You may also contact the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OIAC). 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

We collect no personal information about you when you visit our website unless you choose to provide this information to us.  However, certain information about site visitors is automatically collected and stored.

 

Policy review statement

This policy will be reviewed regularly to ensure it is in accordance with any legislative and practice changes that may occur.  We will let you know via our website when our policy has been updated.

 

QUA 019    V5   Issue Date 26/09/2023