Securing Client Privacy in Australia

I had an inquiry from Australia asking if my book Paperless Private Practice for the IBCLC would be useful to them, or if it was US-Specific. I decided to see what I could find out about how it all works in Australia, and it does seem like their laws are super similar to ours. In full disclosure, I am not an attorney so none of this is legal advice.

Here's what I wrote to her:

Thanks for asking about that. There is a lot of information in the book that is specific to US laws about electronic privacy. It appears that Australia's laws are very similar, and I found you some resources here:

Privacy Fact Sheet 17--Australian Privacy Principles

Privacy business resource 10: Does my small business need to comply with the Privacy Act?

Privacy business resource 9: Ten tips to protect your customers’ personal information

Privacy Guide: A Guide to Compliance with Privacy Laws in Australia -- check out p. 26 for information on using overseas cloud-based systems like the solutions discussed in my book.

I am not an attorney so it would be best to review this information with an attorney in your state. It appears to me that the Privacy Act is very similar to HIPAA, and that if you meet HIPAA obligations as outlined in the book you will be putting systems in place that bring compliance with the Privacy Act.  It seems that a big piece of the Privacy Act concerns "cross border" issues, where personal data or Australian Privacy Principles (APP, similar to PHI in the US) leaves Australia and becomes insecure. Using a cloud-based system from the US that adheres to HIPAA and provides documentation may meet your obligations under Australian law, and the book will tell you how to do that.  It will also provide you with a framework for investigating Australian-based cloud storage and digital communications options, because you will need to ask the same questions as someone in the US.

Additionally, the book will explain how to make your paperless system work with principles that apply regardless of the tech you choose.

G-Suite may be a great option for Australian IBCLCs, using the templates and workflow found in my module (also bundled in the Essential Toolkit). Here's Google's lengthy and tech-dense explanation for how G-Suite complies with APP.

Jane offers support for Australian customers, and I've also got a module for that (and it's also in the Toolkit).

Some Australian IBCLCs are using ChARM, which is one of my favorite platforms to customize.

I found a few EHR platforms that serve Australia. I'm doing further research into pricing and workflow and will update this post as I learn more. I hope to be able to include training modules and charting templates for the platforms that seem to make the most sense for lactation consultants.


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About the Author

Annie Frisbie, MA, IBCLC is the creator of the IBCLC Private Practice Essential Toolkit, a collection of books, resources, legal forms, training manuals, and workbooks aimed at helping private practice lactation consultants build a private practice that’s ethical, profitable, sustainable, and enjoyable.