Australia’s Dry Eye Centre of Excellence
The Dry Eye Centre™ (including Heathmont Village Eyecare) is committed to protecting and preserving the privacy rights of our patients. The Dry Eye Centre™ collects information from our patients in the course of providing optometry services and products. The Dry Eye Centre™ is bound by the Federal Privacy Act 1988 and the Australian Privacy Principles. This policy sets out how The Dry Eye Centre™ treats personal information of our patients. It is available to all staff and the public, free of charge and further details on our information handling processes is available on request.
The Dry Eye Centre™ collects and uses personal information of patients to provide eye care and related health care needs. The Dry Eye Centre™ uses patients’ personal information to establish care plans for treatment, coordination and implementation of eye care or related health care needs. Generally speaking most personal information is collected from the patient. The type of information The Dry Eye Centre™ collects about a patient includes: At the time of the appointment: name and contact details to make the appointment. At the time of the consultation: Patient’s name, address, date of birth, email address, gender, spoken languages, eye disease history including family eye disease history, general health and general health history. The information collected will be relevant to the clinical needs of the patient. At times patient information is acquired through a third party, such as Medicare, Department of Veterans Affairs, a private health fund or other health care provider. This information only relates to eligibility for services provided by those bodies, and is not used except in office, for third party billing procedures.
The Dry Eye Centre™ will use personal information to provide an eye care related service(s) or product. The Dry Eye Centre™ may disclose personal information about patients to third parties for the purpose for which that information was collected and also for related purposes that could reasonably be expected by the patient. Clinically relevant patient information may be shared with other relevant health care practitioners; for example, a referral to an ophthalmologist or General Practitioner, with the patients consent. Patient information may also be used to contact the patient to inform them about the need for a further consultation or practice relocation. A patient may elect not to be contacted in this matter. Information may also be required to be released to courts, tribunals or regulatory authorities as agreed or authorised by law. In most cases this will require a court to order the release of the information, although information may also be released when the optometrist believes that this is necessary to prevent a serious and imminent threat to a person’s life, health or safety, or to public health and safety. Some information, such as the patient’s identity and the type of consultation provided, may be released in order to allow Medicare benefits to be claimed. Commonwealth legislation also allows records to be inspected by representatives of the Medicare Australia in order to investigate whether Medicare benefits have been paid appropriately. The Practice is unlikely to disclose personal information to an overseas recipient with the exception of such matters that arise in the course of providing eye care with the consent of the patient. An example would be the purchase of a speciality optical appliance for a patient that is unavailable in Australia.
The Dry Eye Centre™ will take reasonable steps to ensure that the personal information we collect from patients is accurate, complete and up-to-date. When a patient informs the Practice of any inaccuracy, it will be corrected as soon as possible.
The Dry Eye Centre™ will take all reasonable steps to ensure that the information we hold about a patient is protected from misuse, loss and unauthorised access, modification or disclosure. Record cards are kept for each patient. The only people who have access to patient records are the optometrists involved in the care of the patient, and practice staff, who need access for purposes such as optical dispensing and billing. No unauthorised persons are permitted to access the records. Practice staff are bound by confidentiality clauses in the terms of their employment. The Dry Eye Centre™ will also take reasonable steps to destroy information held about a patient once that information is no longer required, is not contained in a public record or the Practice is required to maintain under an Australia Law or court order.
Access to and correction of personal information
Patients may request access to, and ask The Dry Eye Centre™ to make corrections to, the personal information that Practice holds about them. The Dry Eye Centre™ will, on request, provide a patient with access to his or her personal information, unless there is an exception which applies under relevant privacy laws. If we refuse to provide access to the information, we will provide reasons for the refusal and inform the patient of any exceptions relied upon. A suitable time will be arranged for a viewing, with an optometrist available to interpret the information, or explain any terms used. A fee may be charged for this service. A response to a question for access must be provided within a reasonable time (14 days in ACT; 45 days in Victoria and NSW). Under some circumstances, the Dry Eye Centre™ may refuse to provide access to the information held about a patient. This will occur only where releasing the information would pose a serious threat to the health of the patient or another person, would unreasonably impact on the privacy of another person, would interfere in legal investigations or other proceedings, or would otherwise be illegal. The physical/electronic record and the intellectual property contained in it remain the property of the optometrist and/or the Dry Eye Centre™ at all times.
The Dry Eye Centre™ will not adopt, use or disclose any identifier assigned to a member by a government agency, except where required by law. Medicare numbers will be used only for the purposes of claiming Medicare benefits.
It is a patient’s right to be dealt with anonymously, provided that it is lawful and practicable. The Dry Eye Centre™ will try to accommodate this wherever possible. However, it may not be possible for the Practice to provide optimal services without access to a patient’s personal information.
The Dry Eye Centre™ will not transfer data about the patient to a recipient in a foreign country unless the data will receive at least the same level of protection as in Australia, unless the patient gives their permission for the practice to do so.
The Dry Eye Centre™ will not collect sensitive information about the patient without the patient’s consent, except where collecting such information is required by law, or where the patient (or their representative) cannot give consent and the information is needed to provide a health service to the patient or to reduce a threat to the life or health of another person. ‘Sensitive information’ is defined as information about a person’s health, their racial or ethnic origin, their political, religious or philosophical beliefs and affiliations, their membership in professional or trade associations or unions, their sexual preferences or practices, or their criminal record.
If a patient wishes to gain access to his or her personal information, make a complaint about a breach of his or her privacy or have any questions on how his or her personal information is collected or used, the patient can forward his or her request, complaint or question to the address below: Practice Manager, The Dry Eye Centre™, 142 Canterbury Road Heathmont Vic 3135. The Dry Eye Centre™ will respond to a patient’s request, complaint or question within a reasonable time (14 days in ACT; 45 days in Victoria). Patients may also make a complaint to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) about the handling of their personal information as covered by the Privacy Act. Information on how to made a complaint to the OAIC can be found at www.oaic.gov.au or 1300 363 992.
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