Telephone & Message Policy for Staff
At the Christine Cnr Medical Centre, we recognize that all incoming telephone calls are the principal method for any initial and subsequent communications between our patients and any other persons to this practice.
As such we regard the telephone as a vital and integral tool for creating a positive first impression, displaying a caring, confident attitude and acting as a reassuring resource for our patients and others.
The telephone system we have at the Christine Cnr Medical Centre has already recorded messages that the patients hear prior to the call ringing in the Practice and it relays if the “Call is an Emergency” to then dial 000.
The person answering any telephone enquiries is considered the “Face and Voice” of the Practice.
Our Staff Members always use a 3 Identifier System when taking information over the telephone so we can make sure that we are speaking with the correct person to ensure every patient’s privacy is maintained.
TO RECEPTION STAFF
PLEASE CHECK WE HAVE
CORRECT CONTACT DETAILS:
FOR EVERY PATIENT
ASK SURNAME & FIRST NAME
(MEDICARE CARD NOT AN IDENTIFIER)
We use a system called “Correct Contact Details – CCD” which we have a prompt on each Reception Computer to remind the staff.
Hence, we, The Management insist that all our Team Members be mindful of the message they take, the correct details of the message and that they are indeed respecting the privacy of that patient.
Our aim at the Christine Cnr Medical Centre is to facilitate optimal communication opportunities with our patients.
We know that some patients may be anxious, in pain or distracted by their own or a family member or friend’s medical condition and hence may not always be as polite as they should.
Our Staff are trained to acknowledge and be aware of this and to act accordingly in a professional and courteous manner and they are trained to know not to take it personal if a patient is not always polite.
Courtesy is to be shown to all callers and allow them to be heard; every call should be considered important.
Christine Cnr Medical Centre prides itself on the high calibre of customer service we provide, especially in-patient security, confidentiality, and right to privacy, dignity and respect.
Team members are mindful of confidentiality requirements to ensure patient names or clinical discussions about patients are not openly stated over the telephone when within earshot of other patients or visitors.
It is important for patients telephoning our practice to have the urgency of their needs determined promptly.
Our practice team try to obtain adequate information from the patient to assess whether the call is an emergency before placing the caller ‘on hold’.
Patient messages taken for follow-up by a general practitioner or other practice team members are documented for their attention and action or, in their absence, for the designated person who is responsible for that absent team members’ workload.
This is done via our internal messaging system on the computer. (eg) The message is sent to the relevant GP/Practice member and linked to a patient file, so it is recorded the reason for the contact and if any advice or information was given to the patient.
When an answer has been received it will be then relayed to the patient and documented that this message has been actioned in the patient’s medical record in BP and the result of that enqury.
If a message is left by one of the Practice staff, then it will be recorded in the patient’s medical record so that if that patient rings the Practice then whomever answers the telephone will know exactly what the message was about and can help with the enquiry.
Nothing worse than a patient phoning in and no-one knows why there was a message left.
It makes the Practice look unprofessional.
No staff member at the Christine Cnr Medical Centre will give out any information unless authorised by a GP.
FLOWCHART FOR THE DELIVERY OF MESSAGES AND COMMUNICATION IN HOUSE
RECEPTIONIST FIRST ANSWERS THE CALL “WITH A SMILE IN HER VOICE”
THE RECEPTIONIST ASK FOR 3 FORMS OF IDENTIFICATION SO THAT SHE KNOWS THAT SHE HAS THE CORRECT PERSON FOR PRIVACY REASONS.
IN A TIMELY MANNER SHE TAKES THE MESSAGE AND RELAYS THAT SHE WILL ENDEAVOUR TO HAVE AN ANSWER TO THE QUESTION AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
THE MESSAGE IS THEN DELIVERED VIA OUR INTERNAL SYSTEM IN BEST PRACTICE TO THE RELEVANT PERSON.
RELEVANT STAFF WILL THEN DISCUSS THE MESSAGE AND RELAY THE ANSWERS TO THE ENQUIRY.
RELEVANT STAFF WILL THEN DISCUSS THE MESSAGE AND RELAY THE ANSWERS TO THE ENQUIRY.
THE GIVEN MESSAGE WILL THEN BE DOCUMENTED AND RELAYED BACK TO THE PATIENT.
IF THE PATIENT NEEDS TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT, THEY WILL BE ADVISED WITH A RETURN CALL.
OUR STAFF ARE TRAINED TO ADVISE OUR PATIENTS THAT NO TEST RESULTS WILL BE GIVEN OVER THE PHONE.
OUR PRACTICE DOES NOT GIVE ADVICE OR TEST RESULTS OUT VIA EMAIL COMMUNICATION.
WE DO NOT GIVE OUR PRACTICE EMAILS OUT UNLESS IT IS DIRECTED BY THE GP’S.
WE ENCOURAGE ALL PATIENTS TO COME BACK FOR AN APPOINTMENT IF THEY WISH TO DISCUSS ANY OF THEIR HEALTH ISSUES.
THE STAFF AT CHRISTINE CNR MEDICAL CENTRE HAVE REGULAR AND ONGOING TRAINING IN ALL RECEPTION DUTIES, TELEPHONE & MESSAGING POLICIES.
The Christine Cnr. Medical Centre recognises the importance of privacy, confidentiality protection for all our patients and those that attend our practice.
Our Practice’s principal concern is and will remain the health of any patient that visits our Practice.
Our culture of confidentiality is in line with the:
Commonwealth Privacy Act- Private Sector Act 2000
Our Practice obligations have no exceptions to the Privacy Act in regard to the personal information we hold in trust. Thus, we can ensure that all of our patients’ privacy will be protected when visiting our practice.
How we use and disclose information collected
Understanding that the information we collect at our Practice is often of a highly sensitive nature, the Practice will always ensure that it is compliant with the highest Privacy Standards to keep all personal information secure and protected.
All information is stored electronically and is password protected on several levels. All employees and contractors that work in our Practice are required to sign and comply with our comprehensive confidentiality agreement.
Patient information will be shared within the Practice for administrative and billing purposes, also to enable the patient to be attended to by other Practitioners who provide medical and allied health services at and from our Practice.
The Practice may access information:
- Provided directly by the patient to our Practice
- Provided on a patient’s behalf with their consent
- From health service providers/medical specialists patients are referred to
- From health service providers who refer a patient to a medical/allied health practitioner working within our practice premises.
The collection of all personal information by our Practice may be used or disclosed if required by law, if there is a serious threat to the health or safety of an individual or to public health and safety, for referral of patients to other health service providers or medical specialist, for the purpose of which the patient was advised and to provide the patient with the best health treatment.
The collection and disclosure may also be used for the purposes of billing, liaising with Government Departments regarding Medicare, training to facilitate any improvements on our services.
All health information is kept for a minimum of 7 years for adults from the last visit. If the patient is under 18 years, the records must be kept until that patient has reached 25 years of age.
If you wish to complain regarding a breach of what you believe is a breach of privacy, access your information held by us, correct any of your information held by us or find out more about how this Practice handles your personal information please don’t hesitate to ask at Reception or speak with the Practice Manager.
If you are unhappy with any aspect of our Practice services that we provide to you have the right to make a complaint to: Health Rights Commission on 07 3221 4204
Keeping your personal information private in our practice.
This pamphlet explains how personal information about you and your health is recorded and managed in our practice.
You can receive a copy of our policy free of charge upon request or access it via our practice website.
The ‘personal information’ we collect includes your name, date of birth, address/es, contact details, Medicare number, healthcare identifiers and health fund details.
Medical information may include medical history and any care you may need.
GPs need information about your past and present health in order to provide you with high-quality care.
Our practice follows the guidelines of the RACGP’s Handbook for the management of health information in general practice, 3rd edition (the Handbook).
The Handbook incorporates federal and state privacy legislation, and the Australian Privacy Principles, which requires that your personal information is kept private and secure.
Your medical records
This practice takes steps to ensure that your medical records:
- are accurate, complete, well-organised and legible
- are up-to-date
- contain enough information to allow another GP to care for you
- contain a summary of your care
- can be used to remind you, with your permission, to return for follow up, check-ups and reviews.
If you are uncertain why information is being requested, please ask your GP or the practice staff.
If you wish to remain anonymous while accessing healthcare services, please talk to the practice staff.
Providing your information to other GPs
In this practice, it is normal for all GPs to have access to your medical records.
If you have any concerns about this, please discuss them with your GP or practice staff.
It is important that other people involved in your care, such as medical specialists and other healthcare professionals, are informed of the relevant parts of your medical history, so they can provide the best care for you.
Your GP will let you know when this is necessary.
Providing your information to others
GPs respect your right to decide how your personal information is used or shared.
For example, this may be sharing your health information with specialist doctors.
Personal information that identifies you will only be sent to other people with your consent unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Gaining your consent is the guiding principle used by this practice in using and sharing your information.
Our practice will not share your personal health information with anyone else or another organisation unless:
- you have consented to this sharing, or
- they are legally obliged to disclose the information, in which case your GP will first discuss with you the information that she or he is legally obliged to disclose, or
- the information is necessary for you to obtain Medicare payments or other health insurance rebates, or
- there is an overriding public health and safety interest in the release of the information.
In the above cases, only information necessary to meet the requirements will be provided.
Your health information will not ordinarily be sent overseas unless:
- you are informed and provide consent for this to occur, and
- the overseas country receiving the information has privacy laws that are very similar to the Australian Privacy Principles.
Using health information for quality improvement and research
This practice may use patient health information to assist in improving the quality of care we give to all our patients, by reviewing the treatments used in the practice.
Your information held by the practice may be used in research projects to improve healthcare in the community; however, this information will not include data that can identify you.
The information used for research, including the publication of research results, will not be in a form that would allow you to be identified, unless the research serves an important public interest. In such cases, identifiable medical records can be used for medical research without your consent under guidelines issued by the Australian Government.
Before providing such identified information, your GP will discuss with you the information that she or he is obliged to disclose.
Security of information in the practice
Australian privacy legislation applies to all personal health information recorded in electronic and paper records.
All records must be kept secure to protect against unauthorised access.
This practice complies with these requirements to protect your information.
Access to your health information
You may ask practice staff about any aspect of your healthcare, including information contained in your record.
You can request access to your medical record and any other information the practice records about you.
If you request access to your medical record, your GP will need to consider if there may be a risk of physical or mental harm to you or any other person that may result from disclosure of your health information.
Your GP may need to remove any information that will affect the privacy of other individuals.
Sharing information is important for good communication between you and practice staff.
Your GP can provide a full explanation of the health summary or medical record you are provided access to.
Depending on what is involved, you may be asked to contribute to the cost of providing the information.
This practice does not engage in direct marketing.
Resolving concerns regarding the privacy of your health information
If you have any concerns regarding the privacy of your personal health information or the accuracy of the information held by the practice, you should discuss these with practice staff.
Inaccurate information can be corrected, or your concerns noted in your record.
For legal reasons, the original notes will be retained.
If you have questions or a complaint about the privacy of your personal information, please ask to speak to the privacy contact officer at the practice.
Further information on privacy legislation is available from:
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
1300 363 992
ACT Health Services Commissioner
02 6205 2222
Health and Disability Services Complaints Office
Western Australia – 1800 813 583
Information and Privacy Commission
New South Wales – 1800 472 679
Office of the Health Services Commissioner
Victoria – 1300 582 113
Office of the Information Commissioner
Northern Territory – 1800 005 610
Office of the Information Commissioner
Queensland – 07 3234 7373
1800 001 170
Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner (HCSCC)
South Australia – 08 8226 8666