Whakarongorau Aotearoa privacy statement
Important information about your privacy
Collection of information
Whakarongorau Aotearoa // New Zealand Telehealth Services (previously Homecare Medical) provides a wide range of telehealth services which are listed on our website whakarongorau.nz. We also provide services on behalf of some Region and District (previously District Health Boards (DHBs)) mental health services and general practices (GPs).
Your privacy is important to us
We know your privacy is important to you. We have processes in place to ensure that when you contact us or use our services in any way, we meet our obligations to you under the Privacy Act 2020 and the Health Information Privacy Code. Your information can only be accessed by authorised staff and is protected against unauthorised use, modification, access, or disclosure.
All our staff have signed a confidentiality agreement. Our nurses, doctors and other health professionals must also comply with their professional and ethical obligations of confidence.
When you call us or use our services it is important that you understand how we manage your information. We explain below how we do that.
How we collect and use your information
We usually collect personal information directly from you when you use one of our websites, complete an online form or contact us by any other method; including telephone, text, email, web chat, or written correspondence. This may include your name, gender, ethnicity, date of birth, contact details and information about your illnesses, symptoms, disabilities, and information to help us provide you with the right support according to your needs. We may also look up and record your NHI number to make sure we have identified your records correctly.
We sometimes collect or receive information from a third party, for example from a member of your family/whanau or from someone who is looking after you. If someone contacts us on behalf of another person, we also collect the name and contact details of the person contacting us.
We collect and use your information to enable us to provide you with the most effective services possible. This includes providing you with information about other services, and with your agreement, may include connecting you to other services. In order for us to do this, and to make safe and sound clinical decisions, we collect and use your information for a number of purposes:
- Firstly, we collect and 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 will be able to make a better assessment of your condition when you describe your symptoms to us.
- We use it to match your previous records and visits to our services, if you have contacted us more than once or used another of the services we provide. 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. Information you have previously provided us may also be important to help our clinical staff make safe and sound clinical decisions that meet your needs.
- Where we provide telephone services linked to a Region or District (previously known as a DHB) mental health service or GP, we may access clinical information from these providers to enable us to provide safe and appropriate services to you.
- If you give us permission we will send a summary of our discussion with you to your GP.
- If you give us permission to refer you to another service provider, we pass relevant information on to this provider so you don’t have repeat all the details to them and they have necessary clinical information.
- On occasion we may call you back to confirm your details if our call is interrupted and we need to speak to you to again to send an ambulance to you, or to provide you with further information, support and advice
You can choose not to provide information to us. However, if you choose not to provide relevant 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.
We will not contact you by any means unless you have told us you are happy for us to do so. The only exception to this may be if we believe there is a risk of serious harm to you or any other person, or in an emergency situation when we may call you back on the number you called us.
If we do try to contact you, and we can’t get hold of you, we may leave a voice or text message but, if we do, it will not be detailed.
Surveys and feedback
We regularly ask a number of people for feedback on the services they have received from us. If you call us when we are carrying out one of these surveys you will hear a statement in our phone message, advising that we may text you to ask for feedback. If you tell us that you do not want to participate in a survey, we will not send you a text.
If you do participate in a survey, you will be sent a text with a link to a website, where you can provide feedback. All survey feedback is anonymous, we have no way of linking the text we sent you to anything recorded on the website. Of course, if you would like to discuss your feedback further you are welcome to provide us with your contact details.
We also have a private Facebook group, Co.Discover where service users can get involved in co-designing our services.
We record most telephone consultations and keep a transcript of message-based consultations to help ensure that the advice we give 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.
People who contact our services 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. For this reason 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.
We record calls on most of our service lines to:
- Enable the staff member who is in contact with you to focus on your situation and giving you the support you need.
- Make contact with you if we lose the call and/or if we are concerned about your safety or the safety of anyone else.
- Help us improve our services to you by undertaking quality, audit, training and risk management processes.
These recordings are stored securely. The recordings are only accessed by the clinical staff providing services to you or for carrying out quality assurance, training, audit or risk management activities to enable us to ensure that the services we provide are safe and effective. We may also use the recordings to ensure we can appropriately investigate and manage a complaint.
When you call our Safe to talk line, the Shine helpline, or the 211 Directory service the call is recorded for quality and risk management purposes but is automatically deleted after a short period of time.
We do not record telephone consultations on our Puāwaitanga, and Whītiki Tauā services.
Who we may share your information with
Where we provide services on behalf of another health provider such as a Region or District (previously ‘DHB’) mental health triage line or the afterhours GP support line, we provide a summary of our discussion and advice to the mental health service or GP. This is important to ensure the mental health team or your GP has up-to-date and accurate information required to provide services to you. See further information about these services below.
Where you, or someone concerned about you, has contacted us on the Elder Abuse Response Service we may provide limited information to an appropriate agency in order for the agency to contact you or the caller to offer you support or advice if you would like it.
In other situations, where you have given us permission to refer you to another service provider we may share relevant information with this provider where we think it is important for continuity of care and so that you can receive appropriate and seamless services. In this case we will seek your permission before sharing any information with the other provider unless it is not practicable to do so.
We will only share your information for other purposes where we are permitted or required by law. This might include:
- Disclosing relevant information where that is necessary to 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 emergency or disaster, where Whakarongorau Aotearoa will share symptom and address information with health services and/or Government agencies so that an appropriate health response can be provided.
- For quality assurance, audit and complaint management as set out below.
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.
We will not sell or rent your identifiable information to anyone, including any insurance or commercial company, without your express permission.
Services we provide on behalf of other health care providers
We provide services on behalf of some Region or District mental health services and some GP practices in order for you to have access any time of the day or night to a seamless service. When we are providing these services we are acting as a ‘virtual extension’ of the mental health service or your GP practice. This means that when you call these services your call may come through directly to us.
During some GP calls the health professional providing support and advice to you may access some limited information about you from your GP health service records, if you have authorised your GP to include your information in a shared health record. This may include prescribed medications, allergies, and current diagnoses. Access to this health record may assist us to provide you with a seamless, safe and appropriate service relevant to your needs.
Some Region or District mental health information may be accessed by authorised registered mental health nurses providing services to you, and by our senior medical staff where they are involved in your care.
Quality assurance, audit, research, managing complaints and training
We undertake quality assurance and monitoring of our services to ensure that we provide you the best service possible, and that the clinical decisions we make are sound. In order for us to be able to do this, staff responsible for training, monitoring and improving the quality of our services, undertaking audits, or investigating and managing complaints, may access and use your information for these purposes.
Where we provide services in conjunction with another service such as a Region or District mental health service, GPs, or the ambulance service we may undertake quality assurance or service improvement activities jointly with the other service. Where we do this, and where practicable, we use non-identifiable information. However, at times in order to ensure the services we are providing meet expected quality standards it may be necessary to share identifiable information with the other provider. Where we do this we ensure confidentiality agreements are in place with the other provider and that your information is only used for the purposes of the quality assurance or service improvement activity.
Information that does not identify you
We provide non-identifiable information to the Ministry of Health and other 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.
Storage of information
Whakarongorau Aotearoa has systems and procedures in place to protect your information from misuse and loss, 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 reviews and 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 want to check information that we hold about you, please 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 all the information 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 tell you of our reasons for refusal. If you want us to do so we will attach a statement from you of the correction sought to your record.
We will not charge you a fee for requesting a copy of your information unless we have already provided you with the same or substantially the same information within the last 12 months.
If you believe any information we hold about you is incorrect you can ask us to correct it. We will either make the correction or explain to you why we are not prepared to do so. In that case you may ask for a statement of your views to be placed on your record.
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 your information, you should contact us as detailed below for an examination of your complaint.
Contact our Privacy Officer about privacy-related matters:
If after that you are still unhappy, you can complain to the Privacy Commissioner. See Office of the Privacy Commissioner | Before you make a complaint for further information.