How We Manage Your Health Information
When you are referred to a clinician at Pacific Minds the referrer, usually your GP, provides information about your health to us. This in the form of a letter, fax, or electronic letter. After receiving a referral, an electronic record is created by our administrator and the referral information entered into this. Any paper material received is then shredded. The electronic record is password protected and the only people with access to this are the specific clinician who the referral material has been sent to, and the administrator who has created your record.
At Pacific Minds we use a cloud-based electronic record system – Clinic to Cloud (https://www.clinictocloud.com/). Your information is stored securely on this system, with access password protected. If your information is carried on another system, such as email, after actioning an in-coming email, or sending an email, the copy is removed from the email programme and stored securely in your record.
If you come to an interview with a clinician at Pacific Minds, further information will be gathered from you at that time. This is likely to cover a wide range of aspects of your current and past health, as well as background personal information. With your permission, other people such as family members or other health providers may be contacted to get further information relevant to assessment and treatment of your health. You may be asked to have some tests carried out, such as blood tests or scans, and these results will be sent back to your clinician at Pacific Minds and added to your electronic record. Test results are usually sent electronically to us, though if in paper form these will be scanned to your record then shredded. With your permission, results of tests may also be sent from the laboratory to your GP or other involved clinicians.
After an assessment, a letter is sent back to your GP or referrer containing a summary of the assessment, an opinion, and any treatment advised. This letter is sent either by conventional mail, by fax or electronically, depending on how the referrer prefers to receive information. A copy of this letter, plus any other notes or information relevant to your assessment are stored by the clinician in your electronic record. You may request to have a copy sent to you. If you have further appointments with your clinician then any further information gathered or documents created, such as further letters to your GP, will be stored in this electronic record. If you request a prescription, then this will be sent by conventional mail, electronically or by fax to the pharmacy that you specify.
The clinician that you see is responsible for taking care of your health information and records. The law in NSW requires health service providers to keep health information about an adult for seven years[i]. If you would like to have a copy of some or all the information in your record, then you should make a request to the clinician you have seen. This is best done in writing for clarity, and you may be asked to verify your identity before information is released. Sometimes a request to access your health information may be made by a third party, such as an insurer, another clinician, or your lawyer. In this circumstance a check is made to ensure that you have consented to the release of information to that third party, such as a signed document from you. There are some unusual circumstances in which a request for access to your information will be refused, and these are detailed in the Privacy Act 1988[ii].
If we become aware that information that we have recorded about you is incorrect, either through something we have discovered, or that you have drawn to our attention then this will be corrected.
If you have questions about how your health information is managed, or any concerns or complaints, then please discuss directly with your clinician in the first instance. If this does not resolve the issue, then describing your concerns in writing and approaching an agency such as the NSW Information and Privacy Commission[iii] or the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner may be helpful.[iv]