What's going on with HealthEngine?
If you’re a medical professional working in Australia, chances are that you’ve encountered HealthEngine. HealthEngine is Australia’s most popular online booking software for attaining appointments with all sorts of healthcare businesses: GPs, dentists, physiotherapists, naturopaths, psychiatrists, and a host of other health-related providers.
If you’ve been reading the news lately, chances are that you’ve also noticed HealthEngine’s little scandal – they’ve been busted for funneling the private medical information of roughly 135,000 patients to law firms, so they could target them with insurance and personal injury law services.
HealthEngine allegedly boasted to advertisers in 2018 that it could tailor advertising to match the symptoms of patients, indicating that it was accessing and distributing private information intended to be shared only between the patient and their doctor.
Although they claim that they only distributed the information of users who expressly requested to be contacted, the process through which they gained consent to do so (the fine print in an agreement which had to be accepted in order to use the service) is seen as unethical due to the inability to opt out, and the failure to effectively inform those who used the service.
HealthEngine is looking at a fine of $1.1 million per confidentiality breach, but the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) is still in the process of deciding how many breaches it wants to allege.
Even though HealthEngine now offers a handy pop-up on its site in which it attempts to absolve itself of wrongdoing (see right), many people are reluctant to use the service again for fear that it may leak their confidential information and cause them to be harassed with unsolicited offers.
Many medical practices have used HealthEngine as their sole method of online booking, which could now pose a concern as patients may begin to push away from the service to preserve their privacy. If your business is one of these, it may be beneficial to invest in a secure and effective booking service on your own site to help preserve your online booking capabilities.
With your own localised booking software, you can take control of your own bookings and direct your patients to a booking service that won’t distribute their information. For more information or to get started setting your online booking up, contact Vividus to discuss your options.
Not sure what kind of online booking you need? Check out our new case study, where we investigated the effects and benefits of a great online booking page.