Healthcare Identifiers and the Healthcare Identifier Service
A healthcare identifier is a unique number that ensures healthcare providers can accurately match records to the person they are treating. The Healthcare Identifiers Service is a national system for identifying individuals, healthcare providers and organisations, using a healthcare identifier.
About healthcare identifiers
Healthcare identifiers are unique numbers assigned to:
- healthcare providers
- organisations that provide health services.
Healthcare Identifier Service
The Healthcare Identifiers Service (HI Service) allows healthcare providers to view a person’s information by using a healthcare identifier to access My Health Record.
The HI Service assigns and administers healthcare identifiers. The Chief Executive Medicare oversees the HI Service.
Healthcare identifiers connect the right information with the right individual at the point of care. This gives both health professionals and patients confidence that they are using the correct information.
The HI Service:
- improves safety for patients
- increases efficiency for healthcare providers.
One of the users of healthcare identifiers is My Health Record. The My Health Record system uses healthcare identifiers because anyone receiving healthcare in Australia can be assigned a healthcare identifier.
The HI Service has 3 types of healthcare identifiers.
Individual Healthcare Identifier
An Individual Healthcare Identifier (IHI) is a unique 16-digit number used to identify an individual for health care purposes. As part of the HI Service, every Australian resident has a unique IHI.
IHIs provide a way for healthcare providers to match the right records to the right person. This helps avoid medical mix-ups or a person’s information appearing on another patient’s medical record. A healthcare identifier record includes basic information about a person, such as their:
- date of birth
It may also include a person’s:
- Medicare number
- Department of Veterans’ Affairs file number
You already have an IHI if any of the following apply:
- you have a Medicare card
- you have a DVA card
- you’re enrolled in Medicare.
If you don’t have an IHI, you can apply for one. Once you have an IHI, you don’t need to do anything further.
Healthcare Provider Identifier – Individual
A Healthcare Provider Identifier – Individual (HPI-I) is for healthcare professionals involved in providing patient care.
Healthcare Provider Identifier – Organisation
A Healthcare Provider Identifier – Organisation (HPI-O) for organisations that deliver health care (such as hospitals or general practices).
How to get a HPI-I or HPI-O
Data use, security and governance
Use and storage
Individuals via My Health Record and healthcare providers via various clinical systems, use healthcare identifiers to ensure information is accurate and up to date. Healthcare identifier information is stored in the HI Service, which is administered by Services Australia.
All healthcare identifier information is stored in strict compliance with security and privacy controls (see below).
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) is the independent regulator of the privacy aspects of the Healthcare Identifiers Act 2010 (HI Act). It also monitors the HI Service and handles complaints.
Security and privacy
The HI Service protects individual privacy through legislation and technical security and access controls.
The Healthcare Identifiers Act 2010 specifies that healthcare identifiers can be used for healthcare and related management purposes, with penalties in place for misuse.
Find out more about:
- how authorised persons can access the HI Service
- healthcare identifiers and the HI Service
- The OIAC Privacy guidance regarding Individual Healthcare Identifiers (IHIs) on COVID-19 digital vaccination certificates.
At the end of each financial year, the HI service operator reports on its:
The Ministerial Council and the Minister for Health review the annual reports, which are available from Services Australia.
Healthcare Identifier Service contact
The Healthcare Identifiers Service (HI Service) allows healthcare providers to access a person’s information by using a healthcare identifier. If you have any questions, contact the Healthcare Identifier Service team Monday to Friday from 8.30 am to 5 pm AEST.