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. This practice is bound by the Federal Privacy Act (1988) and the Australian Privacy Principals (APPs). Westbrook Family Medical recognises the importance of protecting the privacy and the rights of individuals in relation to their personal information. This document outlines how we collect and manage your health information.

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 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 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 (eg staff training).

What personal information do we collect?

The information we will collect about you includes your:

  • names, date of birth, addresses, contact 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
  • health fund details.

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 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 information can also be collected through electronic transfer of prescriptions (eTP), My Health Record via uploading Shared Health Summaries and Event Summaries.
  3. We may also collect your personal information when you visit our website, send us an email or SMS, telephone us, make an online appointment 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 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.

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.

Our practice will inform the patient where there is a statutory requirement to disclose personal information (e.g. mandatory reporting of notifiable diseases).

We may provide de-identified data to other organisation’s to improve population health outcomes. The information is secure, patients cannot be identified, and the information is stored within Australia. You can let our reception staff know if you do not want your information included.

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

  • Required by law.
  • 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 a patient’s 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.

How do we store and protect your personal information?

The information Westbrook Family Medical collects includes medical details, family information, name, address, employment or other demographic data, past medical and social history, current health issues and future medical care, Medicare number, and any health information such as medical or personal opinions about a person’s disability or health status.

Our practice stores all personal information securely.

Westbrook Family Medical takes all reasonable steps to ensure that your personal information is protected from loss or misuse. Westbrook Family Medical holds your information both electronically and hard copy format. When your personal information is no longer needed, it is destroyed or de-identified. Our staff and contractors have all signed confidentiality agreements and require passwords to access patient information at all times.

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.

Westbrook Family Medical acknowledges patients may request access to their medical records. Patients are encouraged to put this request in writing and our practice will respond within a reasonable time, no later than 30 days.  

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 to the practice via email to info@westbrookmedical.com.au.

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

We take all feedback, complaints and concerns seriously. You should express any privacy concerns you may have in writing. We will respond to any feedback or attempt to resolve your complaint in accordance with our practice policies. Please contact our Practice Manger via email on info@westbrookmedical.com.au. Our Practice manager will contact you within a reasonable time frame, no later than 30 days to discuss your concerns further.

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, call the OAIC on 1300 363 992 or contact the Office of Health Ombudsman on 133 646 or email complaint@oho.qld.gov.au.

Electronic Communications

At Westbrook and Cambooya Family Medical we give our patients the option of electronic communications such as SMS appointment reminders, online bookings and via email where appropriate.

Consent is signed by the patient at their initial consult stating whether they consent to electronic communications such as SMS reminders. If we are required to email anything patient related, we request that the patients send us an email stating their full name, date of birth and what it is they are requesting to be sent through. This ensures the email is being sent to the correct email address.

Please note that our email service is not encrypted, and we are not able to guarantee secure email communications. There are many risks associated with email communications and we ask you to consider these risks before consenting.

Telephone Consultations

Telephone consultations are now available for patients providing they have attended the practice and have been seen face to face in the last 12 months. Phone appointments are booked as a standard appointment with the Doctor.
If your call is regarding a query for your doctor and they are consulting when you call, our friendly staff will take a message and your call will be returned as soon as convenient. Emergency calls will always be dealt with immediately. 

Policy review

The privacy policy will be reviewed regularly to ensure it is in accordance with any changes that may occur.

We provide a wide range of quality health, well-being and medical services to patients of all ages. As a medical centre serving Toowoomba, Westbrook and Cambooya we’re passionate about helping you improve and maintain good health. Our practitioners are experienced, specialised and committed to the health of your entire family.

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