Patient Portal Terms of Use

1. Introduction

The patient portal enables patients to access some parts of the Melbourne Health, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, The Royal Children’s Hospital, and Royal Women’s Hospital (the health services) electronic medical record.

These terms of use as amended from time to time (Terms), describe the rights and responsibilities you accept as a user of the patient portal in exchange for the health services granting you access to a patient portal account. The Terms apply to you whether you are a patient or the patient's proxy. The health services may change any of the functionality of the patient portal, or make changes to these Terms at any time. If those changes affect your rights and responsibilities, you will be notified the next time you access the patient portal.

The health services may change any of the functionality of the patient portal, or make changes to these Terms at any time. If those changes affect your rights and responsibilities, you will be notified the next time you access the patient portal.

1.1. Medical care

The patient portal is not a tool for requesting or receiving urgent medical attention. In a medical emergency, call 000 or visit your nearest hospital Emergency Department. Information provided on the patient portal is not a substitute for medical care or medical advice by a qualified healthcare professional. Do not delay or disregard medical consultations because of information provided on the patient portal.

1.2. Communication

Communicating with your clinician via the portal is not a substitute for the usual means of communicating about your health, especially if you have concerns or if your condition is getting worse.

If you are unhappy with your health care, the best way to express a concern to your health service is not through the portal. Each health service has a consumer liaison officer who can assist you.

1.3. Privacy

Please refer to the relevant health service’s website to view its privacy policy. The four hospitals have developed an approach to patient privacy policy consistent with the law and to facilitate the use of the EMR across their sites.

1.4. Information accuracy

If you believe any information displayed in the patient portal is inaccurate, incomplete or out of date, you are encouraged to discuss this with your treating clinician at your next visit or write to the relevant health service outlining your concern. You can write to a health service under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 with a request for a correction.

1.5. Access to information

Your ability to access some information about your health care on the patient portal does not substitute your right to apply for access to your full medical record under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

2. Eligibility

Access to the patient portal is determined at the discretion of the health service based on factors that include the age and cognitive ability of the patient, and other factors required by law. Health services have a duty to ensure that no harm is caused when information is released to or accessible by someone.

2.1. Paediatric patients

  1. A patient's parent or guardian will have sole access to their child's information through the patient portal as a 'proxy' until the child is 11 years old;
  2. Once a patient turns 12 they will usually be entitled to access information about their own care directly via the patient portal. After the patient reaches the age of 12, a parent or guardian might also have access to the patient portal information. However sometimes a parent or guardian may not have access to the portal, with such decisions being made by the health service and the treating clinician, and according to the law;
  3. After reaching 16 years of age, in general only the patient will have direct access to the patient portal, unless the patient chooses for an adult to also have access to the patient portal or if the patient is cognitively impaired;
  4. In all the above situations, if you are the patient’s parent or guardian, you will need to request proxy access to the patient’s portal. You cannot use your child’s log on. You will be required to obtain the patient’s written consent to obtain access to the patient’s portal after they reach 16 years of age.

2.2. Adult patients (16 and over)

  1. A patient who is 16 or older can generally make their own decisions about who can access their information on the patient portal;
  2. If an adult patient is cognitively impaired and does not have decision making capacity, an adult proxy can apply to the health service for permission to access the portal on behalf of the patient. The proxy will need to show evidence of their relationship to the patient or their authority to access information about the patient;
  3. At the request of an adult patient who has decision making capacity, another adult may be formally authorised by the patient to assist them to access their portal (eg to help with language difficulties);
  4. A proxy needs to apply to the health service for proxy access. This may require the health service to obtain the patient’s written consent to the proxy having access. You cannot use the patient’s log on.

2.3. Proxy Access

The following principles apply to all access by proxies:

  1. As a proxy, you will be asked to produce evidence of your status (eg as a caregiver or guardian).
  2. A patient may have more than one proxy for the patient portal, and each will have a separate log on. For a cognitively impaired adult patient, only one person will be authorised to give consent to medical treatment on behalf of the patient, according to the law;
  3. Granting ‘proxy’ access to the patient portal will occur at the discretion of the health services, and according to the law;
  4. For paediatric patients, proxy access can be granted to a parent, both parents, or another adult with parental responsibility under a court order, if the health services determine that this is appropriate in all the circumstances and in the child/young person’s best interests;
  5. Where there is information to indicate that accessing a patient’s portal account might pose a risk to the patient or to another person, or is not in the interests of the patient, the health service may not grant proxy access or may revoke existing proxy access;
  6. A health service is not required to grant anyone access, even if the patient requests or authorises it. While health services will generally encourage patients and their proxies to access some health information via the patient portal, access is at the discretion of the health service. Once access or proxy access has been granted, it can be revoked by the health service;
  7. The names of people applying for proxy access will be disclosed to the patient, or any person who holds parental responsibility or authorised caregiver status for the patient;
  8. If your legal relationship with a patient changes and you are no longer legally entitled to access the patient's medical information, you must immediately:
    • inform the health services so that your access can be deactivated; and
    • stop using your patient portal account.

3. Your responsibilities

3.1. Access and use

In accessing and using the patient portal, you understand and agree to the following, you must:

  • not access or seek to access any other person's patient portal account;
  • not permit any other person to use your username or password;
  • only permit another person to access information stored in the patient portal via the Share Everywhere feature, and ensure that the person you are sharing access with will act appropriately with the information made available to them;
  • if you are a proxy for a patient aged 12‐15 years, ensure you discuss with the young person any proposed sharing of their health information through Share Everywhere;
  • keep your username and password secure at all times. Do not disclose your password to anyone else and regularly change your password (when prompted);
  • advise the health services immediately if you suspect that the security of your patient portal account may have been compromised (eg your password or username has been lost or stolen). In this event please contact the relevant health service IT help desk;
  • ensure that your personal details are accurate and kept up to date;
  • ensure that your computer system and processes are sufficiently secure to ensure that your patient portal account is not inadvertently disclosed to or accessed by unauthorised persons; and
  • satisfy yourself that your access to the patient portal on any shared or public computer is consistent with privacy requirements.

3.2. Appropriate use

You must not post or transmit via the patient portal any unlawful, defamatory, obscene, offensive or scandalous material, or any material that constitutes or encourages conduct that would contravene any law. If you cause harm to someone by misusing the patient portal, you may be held responsible for that harm.

You are responsible for any use of your patient portal account using your username and/or password and any code or access arising from the Share Everywhere feature, whether or not that use was authorised by you.

You may grant temporary, one‐time access to your patient portal to people outside the health services, such as those who form part of your care team, via the Share Everywhere feature. The person to whom you give permission, will be able to see all of the information available to you in your patient portal account.

Share Everywhere allows the recipient to send a comment directly to the health service. These comments are not sent directly to your doctor. If follow‐up or action is required, you need to ask your nominated user to contact the relevant health service directly.

You understand and agree that your access to and usage of the patient portal will be recorded and may be subject to audit and/or review by the health services, their staff and/or agents.

4. Deactivation

The health services may lock, suspend or terminate your access or account at any time or for any reason in their discretion, including as follows:

  • if you breach any of these Terms.
  • if you have not accessed the account for 18 months.
  • if you have not received any care at the health services for a period determined by the health services (at least 12 months).

4.1. By user

A patient who is aged 12 to 15 may ask their clinician or health service to restrict or alter their proxy's access to the patient portal and the clinician or health service may in its discretion agree. Parent or guardian access to the patient’s patient portal will automatically expire when a patient turns 16, unless the patient gives express written permission for continued access, or the clinician confirms that the patient is cognitively impaired, or there are other lawful reasons why this is necessary.

From 16 years of age, a patient may terminate the parent, guardian or proxy’s access to the patient portal at any time.

5. Reactivation

If your account is deactivated for any reason, you may apply to reactivate your account by contacting the relevant health service IT help desk.

6. Email communications

If you select email for your communication preference within the activated account, you:

  • will be notified via that email address when new results, messages, or other communication is available to be viewed in the patient portal;
  • consent to receive electronic messages from the health services using your email address; and
  • are responsible for ensuring that the email address specified in your patient portal account is kept up to date.

7. Disclaimer

The patient portal (including material on it) is made available to you on an 'as is' and 'as available' basis and at your own risk. The health services make no representation, and provide no warranty or guarantee (either express or implied), and exclude all liability and any implied warranties (whether implied by statute or otherwise) in connection with:

  • the provision and availability of the patient portal or your use of the patient portal or any other linked website;
  • the functionality, features and performance of the patient portal (the health services may withdraw, suspend or discontinue any functionality or feature at any time);
  • the legality or suitability of the patient portal or any services provided through it;
  • the name or brand used by a health service in connection with the patient portal, and noninfringement of third party rights;
  • the security of the patient portal or any linked site, or the safety of any file or software associated with them (such as safety from any virus or defects including those which could damage or interfere with your data, hardware or software);
  • merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and non‐infringement of third party intellectual property rights;
  • the patient portal being provided error‐free or without interruption (including without limitation the availability of internet connections or other telecommunications systems); or
  • the accessibility, accuracy, quality, currency or reliability of the patient portal or any linked site, or of any of the health services’ or third party materials, information, products or services promoted or accessed via the patient portal or any linked site.

8. Limitation of liability and indemnity

The health services shall not be liable for any direct or indirect losses, costs, expenses or damages (Losses) whether in contract, tort or otherwise (including negligence) arising out of or in connection with the your use of the patient portal, related services and products, content or information contained within the patient portal or any linked site, or the health services’ performance or non-performance of its obligations under these Terms, even if the health services has been advised of the possibility or risk of harm or damage.

To the extent permitted by law you agree that in the event of any problem with the patient portal, any portal services or any dealings between you and the health services regarding the patient portal:

  • your sole remedy is to cease using the patient portal or any information, materials, or services provided to, or accessed by you, in connection with the patient portal;
  • you may be asked to, and you agree to, indemnify any of the relevant health service(s) for any Losses claimed by anyone in connection with your use of or access to the patient portal, and/or if you breach these Terms; and
  • you waive the provisions of any law limiting or prohibiting indemnity as set out in this clause.

9. Intellectual Property

The patient portal and any content made available on it are owned by the health services or its third party licensors, and are protected by Australian and international copyright and other intellectual property laws. That includes the right for a health service to use a name or brand in connection with the patient portal.

10.General

These Terms as amended or updated by the health services from time to time in their absolute discretion, constitute the entire agreement between the health services and you in connection with the patient portal.

These Terms and your access and use of the patient portal are governed by the laws in force in the State of Victoria.