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
See how to apply for a healthcare identifier.
Healthcare Identifiers Framework Project
Healthcare identifiers allow the secure exchange of health information for things like My Health Record and electronic prescribing. However broad adoption of the identifiers has been slow.
Purpose of the project
The Healthcare Identifiers Framework Project aims to increase the use of healthcare identifiers.
The main objective of the project is to:
- ensure the HI Act and HI Service work in a modern healthcare environment
- give regulatory support to deliver high-quality healthcare services
- meet strategic, policy, program, and operational goals.
We want to ensure the use of identifiers across:
- aged care
- disability care
- allied health
- other healthcare programs and services.
- allow your health information to follow you from service to service – for example, your GP to a specialist
- make your Individual Healthcare Identifier the number most (or all) of your healthcare team use to identify you.
The Australian Government is funding the project under the Health Delivery Modernisation (HDM) program. This program will give new digital health services and continue to modernise health payment systems.
Between December 2022 and March 2023, the Healthcare Identifiers Framework Project consulted with a broad range of stakeholders through a public consultation. The consultation covered possible legislative amendments and policy changes to the HI Act and HI Service to increase the use of Healthcare Identifiers.
Stakeholders can view the public consultation through Citizen Space.
We also held a series of webinars during this period to support the consultation process on the following dates:
- Thursday 15 December 2022
- Wednesday 18 January 2023
- Wednesday 8 February
- Thursday 23 February 2023.
Learn more about the project and proposed legislation changes by listening our webinar recordings.
The project will continue to engage with stakeholders over the next 12 months as we consider proposed changes to the HI Framework.
Contact us for enquiries by emailing HIFrameworkProject@Health.gov.au.
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.