By Ashleigh McMillan
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner is reminding optometrists to handle patient data with care during the annual Privacy Awareness Week, which begins today.
Optometry Australia is one of more than 320 partner organisations of the event held on 15-19 May. Privacy Awareness Week 2017 has a focus on transparency for information-handling practices, in order to allow consumers to make an informed choice about how their information is shared.
The event also encourages practitioners to maintain strong security, and ensure their information management and handling procedures are up to date.
Optometry Australia policy and advocacy adviser Tin Nguyen says the 2017 theme of ‘trust and transparency’ is a particularly important doctrine for the optometry profession.
‘Patients are often required to disclose information to their optometrist which is particularly sensitive, including health information, and personal and financial details. Privacy Awareness Week is a reminder to our members to treat their patients’ personal information with care.
‘In the Federal Budget announced on 9 May, the Australian Government confirmed that the digital My Health Record would be following an opt-out model. Privacy Awareness Week is a great time to consider the implications of the way patients ask for their information to be stored in your practice and the privacy measures that are in place,’ he said.
The event will coincide with the release of the 2017 Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey, which will provide a snapshot of Australia’s views on how private information is handled, emerging privacy trends and consumers’ main privacy concerns.
A new online course on privacy impact assessments and how to develop privacy policies within a practice is available on the Privacy Awareness Week website, alongside other resources including printable posters, tips for online safety and videos.
Optometry Australia also has privacy resources relating to how optometrists can protect patient information.