The Healthcare Identifiers Act 2010 (the HI Act) establishes the Healthcare Identifiers Service (the HI Service) and prescribes how healthcare identifiers will be assigned, how they can be used and disclosed. There are also Healthcare Identifier Regulations that expand on the requirements in the HI Act.
Healthcare providers can only access, use or disclose healthcare identifiers for the limited purposes set out in the HI Act. The main purpose is to communicate or manage health information as part of the provision of healthcare however there are several other purposes where healthcare identifiers can be used or disclosed including for the management and evaluation of healthcare and for approved research.
An individual healthcare identifier is a 16 digit number that is now issued by the HI Service to all individuals who receive healthcare in Australia. Healthcare providers and healthcare provider organisations also have a unique identifier.
The Office has oversight and compliance functions under the HI Act including investigating complaints about the mishandling of healthcare identifiers. In some cases the OAIC will have the power to investigate complaints against state or territory authorities, where the state or territory has not separately legislated to give that power to another body.
The HI Act does not affect existing privacy obligations that healthcare providers and other organisations have in relation to the handling of your health information.
See our FAQs on healthcare identifiers
Also see our information on the eHealth record system
Healthcare Identifier Service
enquiries line: 1300 361 457
website: For individuals: www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/medicare/healthcare-identifiers-service For health providers: www.medicareaustralia.gov.au/provider/health-identifier/index.jsp
National E-Health Transition Authority