Why and when your consent is necessary
When you register as a patient of our practice, you provide consent for our doctors and practice staff to access and use your personal information so they can provide you with the best possible healthcare. Whilst our practice uses a shared medical record, only doctors and staff who 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).
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 healthcare services. 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 identification and 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.
In some subspecialties, such as with oculoplastics, the doctor may ask to take photographs for your medical record, for which your additional consent is requested.
- The images are stored securely and privately for an indefinite period of time 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 examples 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?
Our practice may collect your personal information in several different ways.
- When you make your first appointment our practice staff will collect your personal and demographic information over the phone and/or via your registration form.
- During the course of providing medical services, we may collect further personal information.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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, Eye Surgery Associates often receives unsolicited personal information in the form of a referral from your medical practitioner or optometrist.
We may use or disclose the unsolicited personal information for the purposes of making a determination. 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 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 practice for business purposes, such as accreditation agencies or information technology providers – these third parties are required to comply with the APPs and this policy
- 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 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 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, 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 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 the practice. Should information that may identify you be presented at a conference or in a journal, your express consent will be sort for this purpose.
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.
Our practice may use your personal information to improve the quality of the services we offer to our patients through research and analysis of our patient data.
We may provide de-identified data to other organisations to improve population health outcomes. The 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 at our practice 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).
Our practice stores 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 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 to the Group Administration Manager, and our practice 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 children over the age of 15 can 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.
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.
For further information or to lodge a privacy-related complaint
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
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.
Ref: QUA 019 V3 19/11/2020
Taking Photos, Videos or Recording Conversations at ESA
Protecting patient privacy is important to us. Likewise, we respect the privacy of our employees and doctors. Photos, videos or recordings of a person in a medical setting, who has not consented or cannot consent, may have privacy implications so it’s important to consider how the photos and videos are used.
We request that photos, videos and/or recordings of other patients, their carers, visitors, our staff and doctors are not taken/recorded unless prior approval is obtained. If the consent is withheld, for whatever reason, please respect the individual’s decision.
Any photography, videos or recordings should not interfere with a patient’s clinical care. If photography, videos or recordings disrupts the delivery of care, or if a doctor or staff member believes that it is not in the best interest of the patient – even if the patient has given permission – the ESA doctor or staff member may request that it stops.
If you have the appropriate consent to take a photo, video or recording, please take care that ESA doctors, staff, other patients and visitors aren’t accidentally captured.
Photographing medical records is not permitted. If you wish to obtain a copy of your medical record please make a formal request and a staff member will assist in the process. Videoing and/or recording medical consultations is not permitted without the approval of your treating ophthalmologist. A copy of the video or recording made during a consultation must be retained by ESA and will form part of the patient’s medical record.