The Healthcare Identifiers Act establishes a national system for consistently identifying consumers and healthcare providers.
The objective is that healthcare identifiers for individuals and providers will be used as part of a national electronic health records system to improve safety for patients and increase efficiency for healthcare providers.
The Healthcare Identifiers Service will be operated by Medicare Australia.
Its functions include:
- assigning, collecting and maintaining identifiers for individuals, individual healthcare providers and organisations by using information already held by Medicare Australia for its existing functions;
- collecting information from individuals and other data sources;
- developing and maintaining mechanisms for users to access their own records and correct or update details;
- using and disclosing healthcare identifiers and associated personal information,for the purposes of operating the Healthcare Identifiers Service; and
- disclosing healthcare identifiers for other purposes set out in the Act.
The Act sets out the permitted purposes for which healthcare identifiers may be used or disclosed and the offences relating to the misuse of healthcare identifiers and penalties for breaches of the legislation.
The Federal Privacy Commissioner will provide independent regulation of how healthcare identifiers are handled and the operation of the Healthcare Identifiers Service. This will include handling complaints against Medicare Australia.