It’s important to outline how HEMC (Hamilton East Medical Centre) and its contractors collect, use, disclose and store your personal information. HEMC complies with the Privacy Act 1993 and the Health Information Privacy Code (HPIC).
Collection of information
We may collect your name, gender, ethnicity, date of birth, contact details and information about your illnesses, symptoms, disabilities and information required to provide you with a health service. We usually collect personal information directly from you when you use one of our websites, complete an online form or contact us by any method; including telephone, text, email, web chat, or written correspondence. We may look up and record your NHI number to make sure we have identified your records correctly. We sometimes collect information from a third party, for example from a member of your family/whanau or from someone who is looking after you. Also, if someone contacts us on behalf of another person, we collect the name and contact details of the person contacting us.We collect and use your personal information for a number of purposes:
- Firstly, we use it to make sure that we assess your needs properly. If we know something about your age, gender, general health status and medication, we may be able to make a better assessment of your condition when you describe your symptoms to us.
- We use it match your previous records, if you have contacted us more than once. You may not be able to remember all the details of your last contact, and we may be able to look up information that is relevant to the problem you currently have.
- If you give us permission to send a summary of our discussion to your GP, we need to make sure that we match the summary with the right record in your GP’s files.
- If you give us permission to refer you to another service provider, we pass your information on to this provider so you don’t have repeat all the details to them
- We provide non-identifiable information to the Ministry of Health and organisations that will help with the identification of broad health issues and development of new services. For example, we may see that there are many people living in your region who have a particular concern, or that many men within a particular age bracket are suffering from specific symptoms. We do not disclose your name, NHI number or address when we pass on general health data like this.
- We work with universities and research organisations, and from time to time we invite people using our services to take part in research. It is always your choice whether to take part in research and your decision has no impact on the services we provide. If you do want to take part, we provide your name and contact details to the researchers who will contact you directly.
If you choose not to provide your personal information to us this may affect our ability to give you the best possible service. If you don’t want to give us any information about yourself, or only provide limited information, we will give you the best service we can using the information you do provide.
HEMC uses audio recordings of most telephone consultations and transcripts of message- based consultations to help ensure that the advice it gives meets the highest standards of safety and quality. Recording of phone calls, texts and other contacts is considered internationally to be best practice for services like the ones we provide. We record contacts on most of our service lines for several reasons:
- For quality, training and risk management purposes
- To enable the staff member who is in contact with you to focus on your situation and on giving you the support you need
- Some of the contacts we receive are from people in crisis or high-risk situations. If we lose contact in these circumstances (for example, if a call is disconnected) we may need to listen to the call to ensure the caller’s and other’s safety
People who contact the service may be in life threatening situations or experiencing acute distress. In order to respond effectively, we have removed any time delays and intrusive processes that detail why we collect information and how we use it. There are no messages about recordings on our telephone services or via text, email and webchat. This is similar to the way emergency services such as the Police and ambulance services operate.
Other disclosures of information
Under some circumstances there may be other disclosures of some of your information:
- If disclosing information will prevent or lessen a serious threat to someone’s life, health or safety or a threat to public health or safety
- In the event of a national or regional health disaster, where HEMC will share symptom and address information with health services and/or Government agencies in order that an appropriate health response can be provided.
- If HEMC is authorised or compelled by law to disclose.
When we disclose your personal information to third parties, we make all reasonable efforts to ensure we disclose only relevant information and that it is accurate, complete and up to date. HEMC will not sell or rent your personal information to anyone and will not transfer your information overseas unless you specifically ask us to do so.
Storage of information
HEMC has systems and procedures in place to protect your personal information from misuse and loss, and from unauthorised access, modification or disclosure. Your information is stored securely in a Government-approved data centre, and is accessed only by staff providing services to you, or in the course of carrying out service quality audits. Our staff all sign confidentiality agreements when they join us, and there are systems and policies in place to prevent them sharing data inappropriately. We are required to store information for at least 10 years.
If you want to see a copy of your information
If you wish to see what information HEMC has about you, you can ask for a copy of it; see below for contact details. We will ask you to provide evidence that you are in fact the person whose information you are requesting, or that you are entitled to this information. Sometimes it may not be possible to give you a copy of the information if it was provided anonymously, if it contains details about other people, or if it would be unsafe to provide the information in that it may lead to harm being done to another person. If we refuse to provide you with access to your record or to update your record in the way you request, we will provide you with written reasons. HEMC will not charge you a fee for lodging a request for a copy of your personal information and will make every effort to provide this information free of cost. If there are significant amounts of information to be gathered you may be asked to pay a reasonable fee for this work and associated costs such as photocopying. You will be notified of any likely costs before your request is processed. HEMC has measures to ensure that the information it holds about you is accurate, complete and up to date before acting on it. If you learn that personal information HEMC holds about you is inaccurate, incomplete or not up to date, you should contact HEMC so that your information can be promptly updated. If we refuse to correct or update your information, you may request that we make a note on your record that you are of the opinion that the information is inaccurate, incomplete, out of date, irrelevant or misleading, as the case may be.
Making a complaint
If you have a privacy complaint or concern, especially if you think your privacy has been affected or you wish to complain about our refusal to update or grant access to our records of your personal information, you should contact HEMC as detailed below for an examination of your complaint. If after that you are still unhappy, you can complain about a privacy matter to the Privacy Commissioner. See https://www.privacy.org.nz/your-privacy/how-to-complain/ for how to make a complaint.