Privacy Policy

Walker Street Doctors Privacy Policy

Current as at: 22nd August 2020.

Introduction

This privacy policy is to provide information to you, our patient, on how your personal information (which includes your health information) is collected, stored, protected and used within our practice, and the very limited circumstances in which we may share it with third parties (software provider for booking appointments only).

Why and when your consent is necessary

When you register as a patient of our practice, you are necessarily providing consent for our current GPs and practice nurses to access and use your personal information, purely for the purpose of providing you with the best possible healthcare. Only staff who need to see your personal information will have access to it.

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

Our practice needs to collect your personal information to in order to provide comprehensive and complete care of your health and wellbeing. Our sole purpose for collecting, using, holding and sharing your personal information is to manage your health.

We also use your Medicare card number in order to assist you with your Medicare claims, with your consent.

What personal information do we collect?

The information we will collect about you includes your:

  • Name, date of birth, address, contact details and next of kin details.
  • medical information including medical history, medications, allergies, adverse events, immunisations, social history, family history and risk factors
  • Medicare number (where available) for identification and claiming purposes
  • healthcare identifiers in order to upload your eHealth record.

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 deal only with identified individuals. (APP 2)

How do we collect your personal information?

Our practice collects your personal information in 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.
  3. Information can also be collected through electronic transfer of prescriptions (eScripts) and My Health Record. Our practice strongly recommends the use of My Health Record in order to keep all members of your medical team appraised of updated health issues, significant pathology and radiology findings, list of allergies and current medication list.
  4. We may also collect your personal and health information when you send us an email, telephone us, or make an online appointment.
  5. 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
    • Medicare, or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (as necessary).

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

We sometimes need to share your personal information:

  • with your specialists and allied health care providers and the emergency department of the hospital in order to provide you with the highest quality of clinical care.
  • In the process of booking your appointment and sending SMS reminders for your appointments, we use the third party organisation HotDoc. This organisation is compliant with APPs and with this policy.
  • when it is required or authorised by law (e.g. court subpoenas). You would always be notified immediately in such an event. This occurs very rarely.
  • 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. For example, if a person with severe dementia was known to be driving against medical advice, the RMS must be notified for the public good.
  • to assist in locating a missing person
  • when there is a statutory requirement to share certain personal information with the Public Health Unit. Some disease require mandatory notification – including measles, HIV and COVID-19. This is important to track personal contacts and to control the spread of infectious diseases.
  • during the course of providing medical services, through eScripts or My Health Record, with your consent.

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. Our cloud based services are based in Australia and adhere to Australian Law. Our IT Support providers also have Australian Government Health Service Contracts and are compliant with APPs and Privacy Law.

Our practice will not use your personal information for marketing any goods or services directly to you.

How do we store and protect your personal information?

Your personal information is stored at our practice in electronic form.

Our practice stores all personal information securely in electronic format with password- protected software. Our passwords are changed frequently. We have onsite and offsite backups. We regularly test our backup systems. We run the latest operating system software and patches for those systems are updated regularly.

Our doctors and Practice Manager have remote access in order to have the capacity to respond to your incoming results 24/7. The same privacy principles in this policy apply to remote access, Our laptops are dedicated WSD laptops and our IT support team support and update those laptops in the same way as our desktops and servers onsite. We have shredders at home for destruction of confidential documentation and/or return hard copy information which is no longer required to the practice for industrial shredding and destruction. (APP 11)

We take (more than) reasonable steps to secure personal and sensitive information and protect it from misuse, interference, loss and unauthorized access. Our level of security matches the sensitivity of the information held. Security measures are reviewed regularly and tested. We understand the risks of electronic health and take cybersecurity very seriously indeed. Our practice has engaged Paraflare to undertake a proactive investigation of the security of our servers and our practices in mid 2020 and we have ongoing support from Cynch Securities (IT security for small business) in order to assist us to be at the pinnacle of our industry in terms of cybersecurity, way above industry standards.

We understand that from time to time, particularly with Telehealth consultations, we will need to email to you pathology and radiology requests. We undertake to reduce human error as much as is possible when transmitting such material.

We have been early adopters for eScripts in order to increase the security of your medication data.

We transmit pathology results where possible via pin protected email link via Sonic Dx.

If there is ever any sensitive health information to relay to you, we will do so by telephone, Telehealth or face to face.

All of our staff all have signed confidentiality agreements.

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

It is WSD’s obligation to maintain accurate and up to date records. (APP 12 and 13) You have the right to request access to, and correction of, your personal information.

Our practice acknowledges patients may rarely require access to their medical records. We require you to put this request in writing to the practice principal at Walker Street Doctors or to discuss the reason with your regular GP and our practice will respond within a reasonable time frame. There may be a cost associated with this.

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 to your doctor or the practice principal.

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. reception@walkerstreetdoctors.com.au is the best email address to use, or alternatively our street address is Suite 601/ 121 Walker St, North Sydney, NSW 2060.

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.

Policy review statement

This privacy policy will be reviewed regularly and at least six monthly in order to ensure it is in accordance with any changes that may occur.