October 22, 2019

October 22, 2019

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October 21, 2019

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Healthengine Under Fire for Profiting from Disclosure of Patient Information

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is taking on Australia’s largest online health marketplace, HealthEngine. In return for a fee, HealthEngine provided without adequate disclosure, patient information to nine private health insurance brokers. 

The MedTech platform functions as an online booking service for many health care providers Australia-wide. During the booking process, HealthEngine would ask users two additional questions. Firstly, they would ask if the user had private health insurance. Secondly, they would ask if the user would like to be contacted with health insurance comparison information. By clicking ‘Yes’ to the second question, users had their personal information transferred to health insurance brokers. This information comprised the user’s name, contact details, date of birth and private health care status.

The ACCC alleges that users were not made aware that HealthEngine would be relaying their personal information to insurance brokers, nor were they made aware that HealthEngine would be receiving a fee for these referrals. The action of creating professional arrangements with nine different providers would appear to suggest a conscious undertaking to generate revenue from the transfer of patient information.

HealthEngine attributed their actions to “rapid growth over the years [that] has sometimes outpaced our systems and processes”, and maintains that information was not shared without express consent. The ACCC asserts that HealthEngine’s conduct deprived users of the capacity to control the transfer of their information to insurance brokers, impeding on their ability to make informed decisions over such transfers.

This case will soon go before the Federal Court of Australia. If you, like many of the affected users, do not wish for your personal information to be shared with anythird party, there is one clear way to prevent it from happening. No one likes reading the fine print, but it is important to read so that you are aware of what you are consenting to – even for something as simple as booking a doctors appointment! 

Co-author: Alyssia Totham

Copyright 2019 K & L Gates

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About this Author

Cameron Abbott, Technology, Attorney, Australia, corporate, KL Gates Law Firm
Partner

Mr. Abbott is a corporate lawyer who focuses on technology, telecommunications and broadcasting transactions. He assists corporations and vendors in managing their technology requirements and contracts, particularly large outsourcing and technology procurements issues including licensing terms for SAP and Oracle and major system integration transactions.

Mr. Abbott partners with his clients to ensure market leading solutions are implemented in to their businesses. He concentrates on managing and negotiating complex technology solutions, which...

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Senior Attorney

Ms. Aggromito is a senior lawyer in the lawyer in the Melbourne commercial technology and sourcing team focusing on IT, privacy and data protection.

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