The Australian Medical Association on Friday said it is supporting the government’s decision to ask the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) to inquire into the data privacy procedures of HealthEngine.
Health minister Greg Hunt ordered an ‘urgent review’ into Australia’s largest online doctor appointment booking service after an ABC report that the company funnelled medical information about hundreds of users to law firms seeking clients for personal injury claims.
AMA president, Dr Tony Bartone, said that recent media reports raise serious issues, and warrant examination by the commissioner.
“The AMA is concerned about any irregularities or threats related to patient privacy, patient consent, the AMA Code of Ethics, and medical ethics more broadly,” Dr Bartone said.
“We also have concerns about anything that could diminish community trust in the medical profession and any actions that may undermine public confidence in embracing electronic health initiatives, which the AMA strongly supports.”
Dr Bartone also highlighted the “serious matter” of the potential of third parties to profit from having access to confidential and private patient information.
“The AMA’s concerns extend beyond HealthEngine to other apps, websotes and services, currently being promoted by commercial entities and health sector bodies, which raise similar questions about privacy and ethics.
“We look forward to seeing the OAIC report on HealthEngine, and we will work closely with the minister and government to ensure that patient privacy is protected,” he said.
Dr Bartone said the AMA will continue to work with the government and its agencies to ensure and support and update of electronic health initiatives including the My Health Record.
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