Health Minister Greg Hunt has ordered an “urgent review” of Australia’s biggest online doctor appointment service, HeathEngine.
HealthEngine requests the details of patients’ symptoms and medical conditions as part of their booking process. It has been revealed that this information was passed on to a partner law firm at an average rate of 200 patients per month. This was called a “referral partnership pilot” program, and operated between March and August of 2017.
HealthEngine has denied sharing this information without patient consent, stating consent was provided by users via a simple pop-up form in the app. Further information is provided in The Australian Financial Review’s article here.
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) supports the Health Minister’s request and has serious concern for irregularities or threats related to patent privacy, patient consent, the AMA Code of Ethics, and medical ethics more broadly. This issue extends beyond HealthEngine to other apps, websites and services currently being promoted by commercial entities and health sector bodies.
Read the AMA’s media release here.