YOUR PRIVACY AND THE LAW
Vitalis Health & Home Care is committed to ensuring that the privacy of your personal information is respected and maintained at all times. We are bound by the Australian Privacy Principles in the Privacy Act 1988 (Commonwealth) and any relevant Health Privacy Principles under State legislation.
What is personal information?
Personal information means information or an opinion about an identified individual, or an individual who is reasonably identifiable from the information, whether the information or opinion is true or not and whether it is recorded in a material form or not.
Sensitive information is a subset of personal information which is generally afforded a higher level of protection. It includes your health, genetic and/or biometric information, as well as information about your racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, membership of political, professional or trade associations, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or practices, and criminal record.
What personal information do we collect?
The personal information we collect may include your name, date of birth, address/es, contact details, Medicare number, healthcare identifiers and health fund details. It may also include bank account, credit card and other payment details. Medical information may include medical history and any care you may need. Our team need information about your past and present health in order to provide you with high-quality care.
Vitalis follows the guidelines of the RACGP’s Handbook for the management of health information in general practice, 4th edition (the Handbook). The Handbook incorporates federal and state privacy legislation, and the Australian Privacy Principles, which requires that your personal information is kept private and secure.
When you apply for employment with us, information we may collect includes your name, date of birth, address, contact details, employment details, educational qualifications and other information about your personal circumstances included in, or pertaining to, any job application you submit to us or provide to us for the purpose of assessing and processing your application for employment with us.
Why do we collect, use, hold and share your personal information?
Vitalis will need to collect your personal information to provide home and healthcare services to you. Our main purpose for collecting, using, holding and sharing your personal information is to manage your health and home care needs. 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).
We may also collect your personal information for the purpose of telling you about our services or products that might better service your healthcare or lifestyle requirements or other opportunities in which you may be interested. You may opt out of receiving marketing communications from us at any time by following opt out instructions provided in such marketing communications.
If you are a job applicant, the information we collect is used to assess and process your application for employment with us.
Why and when your consent is necessary
When you register, or on your initial booking with Vitalis, you or your guardian or authorized personal representative (your ‘Personal Representative’) provides consent for care staff and doctors to access and use your personal information so they can provide you with the best possible health, home care and related services. Only staff that needs 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 so.
How do we collect your personal information?
Vitalis will collect your personal information:
- When you make contact with our service
- When we discuss your health, home care or related needs with you or your Personal Representative
- During the course of providing clinical or home care services, we may collect further personal information
- We may also collect your personal information when you visit our website, send us an email or SMS, telephone us, make an online booking 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 Personal Representative
- other involved healthcare providers, such as your general practitioner, specialists, allied health professionals, hospitals, community health services and pathology and diagnostic imaging services
- your health fund, Medicare, or the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (as necessary).
If you are applying for employment with Vitalis, we may also collect personal information from third parties such as referees, as well as from background searches including publicly available sources such as Linkedin or other social media websites.
Your medical records
Vitalis takes steps to ensure that your clinical and home care records:
- are accurate, complete, well-organised and legible
- are up-to-date
- contain enough information to allow another clinical or care staff member to care for you.
If you are uncertain why information is being requested, please ask our Privacy Officer. If you wish to remain anonymous while accessing healthcare services, please speak to one of our staff.
Disclosing your personal information
Subject to the particular restrictions on sensitive information (see below) we may disclose your personal information to:
- any person you request or consent to receiving the information
- your treating doctor or regular general practitioner
- anyone we are required or authorized by law to disclose the personal information
- Medicare or health insurance companies where it is necessary for you to obtain Medicare payments or other health insurance rebates, or
- our provider network who assists us to facilitate the provision of clinical care services or other services to you;
- anyone included in a transfer of all or part of our assets or businesses
- authorities where there is an overriding public health and safety interest in the release of the information.
In the above cases, only information necessary to meet the requirements will be provided. Your health information will not ordinarily be sent overseas unless we have taken steps to ensure that it is treated in the same way as we would treat it.
Sensitive information will only be used for the purposes for which it was provided or for a purpose directly related to such purpose, unless you agree otherwise or the use or disclosure of the sensitive information is required or authorised by law.
By providing your personal information, you are consenting to provisions outlined previously and to the collection, use and disclosure provisions described.
Vitalis requires that organisations to which it discloses your personal information have in place reasonable safeguards for protecting personal information. These organisations are only permitted to use the information for services or functions for which they have been engaged.
Providing your information to GPs, specialists and others
Vitalis respect your right to decide how your personal information is used or shared. With your consent, personal information that identifies you will be sent to your GP and/or treating specialists involved in your care; it will only be sent to other people with your consent, unless there are exceptional circumstances, to ensure continuity of care. Gaining your consent is the guiding principle used by Vitalis in using and sharing your information.
Using health information for quality improvement and research
Vitalis may use your health information to assist in improving the quality of care we give to all our patients, by reviewing the treatments and approaches used in the service.
Your information held by Vitalis may be used in research projects to improve healthcare in the community; however, this information will not include data that can identify you.
The information used for research, including the publication of research results, will not be in a form that would allow you to be identified, unless the research serves an important public interest. In such cases, identifiable medical records can be used for medical research without your consent under guidelines issued by the Australian Government. Before providing such identified information, Vitalis will discuss with you the information that we are obliged to disclose.
How can you access your health information?
Sharing information is important for good communication between Vitalis and yourself. You can request access to your clinical and home care record and any other information Vitalis records about you. You may also ask our staff about any aspect of your health and home care, including information contained in your record.
If you request access to your clinical or home care record, Vitalis will need to consider if there may be a risk of physical or mental harm to you or any other person that may result from disclosure of your personal information. Vitalis may need to remove any information that will affect the privacy of other individuals.
Depending on what is involved, you may be asked to contribute to the cost of providing the information.
How do we protect your personal information?
Australian privacy legislation applies to all personal health information recorded in electronic and paper records. It also applies to employee records Vitalis must maintain to comply with national employment laws, taxation, national insurance and benefit schemes, and other laws and regulations.
Vitalis takes reasonable steps to ensure your personal information is kept secure, and is not subject to misuse, interference and loss, unauthorised access, modification or disclosure. Vitalis only permits its authorized personal to access your personal information, and information will only be disclosed to third parties where they have the appropriate authority.
Records containing personal information collected by Vitalis will be held in accordance with the relevant legislation. In relation to health records, this generally requires us to hold these records for at least seven years from the last time a health service was provided. If someone under the age of 18 used the health service, the records will be held at least until that person has turned 25.
We reserve the right to change this policy at any time.
Resolving concerns regarding the privacy of your clinical and home care information
If you have any concerns regarding the privacy of your personal, clinical or home care information or the accuracy of the information held by Vitalis, you should discuss these with our Privacy Officer. Inaccurate information can be corrected or your concerns noted in your record. For legal reasons, the original notes will be retained.
If you wish to contact us about your personal information or make a complaint about possible breaches of privacy, you should direct enquiries to:
The Privacy Officer will endeavour to deal with your enquiry or complaint as soon as is reasonably practicable.
Further information on privacy legislation is available from:
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
Phone: 1300 363 992
Information and Privacy Commission, New South Wales
Phone: 1800 472 679
Office of the Information Commissioner, Queensland
Phone: (07) 3234 7373
ACT Health Services Commissioner
Phone: (02) 6205 2222
Office of the Health Services Commissioner, Victoria
Phone: 1300 582 113
Phone: 1800 001 170
Health and Disability Services Complaints Office, Western Australia
Phone: 1800 813 583
Office of the Information Commissioner, Northern Territory
Phone: 1800 005 610