Healthcare Identifiers Service
If you are enrolled in Medicare, or hold a Department of Veterans' Affairs treatment card, you have been allocated a unique Individual Healthcare Identifier (IHI).
Your healthcare identifier can be used by healthcare providers to improve the security and management of your personal health information. Under law, the Department of Human Services can give your IHI to your healthcare provider such as your doctor without your consent. However, the healthcare identifiers legislation and existing privacy laws govern how these identifiers are used.
Healthcare identifiers do not replace Medicare or Department of Veterans' Affairs numbers and do not affect the way medical benefits are claimed.
A healthcare identifier is not a health record. The information held by the HI Service is limited to demographic information such as your name, date of birth and sex which is needed to uniquely identify you and your healthcare providers.
Each time your healthcare identifier is searched for and retrieved in the system, the details of who requested your identifier is recorded. If you are registered for our Medicare Online, you can view your IHI history online.
Types of Healthcare Identifiers
As part of the service, every Australian resident has been allocated a unique 16 digit individual Healthcare Identifier (HI) number. You don’t need to remember or do anything with your HI number. It has been created to be used by your healthcare providers to improve the security and management of your personal health information.
There are three types of Healthcare Identifiers:
- Individual Healthcare Identifier (IHI)—allocated to all individuals enrolled in Medicare, or who hold a Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) treatment card and others who seek healthcare in Australia
- Healthcare Provider Identifier – Individual (HPI-I)—allocated to healthcare providers involved in providing patient care
- Healthcare Provider Identifier – Organisation (HPI-O)—allocated to organisations (such as a hospital or medical clinic) where healthcare is provided.
Benefits of the Healthcare Identifiers Service
The HI Service gives individuals and healthcare providers confidence that the right health information is associated with the right individual at the point of care.
Healthcare identifiers help to enable the personally controlled electronic health (eHealth) record system. The eHealth record system uses healthcare identifiers to attach your information to the right record. Register for your eHealth record today.
Authorised healthcare providers or authorised employees of a healthcare organisation can access the HI Service to get the IHI of a patient being treated.
The system design does not allow for ‘browsing’ of records. A request by an authorised healthcare provider for a patient’s identifier will only reveal an IHI when there is an exact match with the patient information provided by the healthcare provider. Each time your healthcare identifier is accessed, the details of who requested your identifier is recorded and is included in your IHI history.
Penalties for the intentional misuse of healthcare identifiers, such as an inappropriate disclosure of information by DHS, or users of the service are set out in legislation and current privacy laws apply.
Getting your IHI number
If you are enrolled in Medicare, or hold a Department of Veterans' Affairs treatment card, you will have been allocated a Individual Healthcare Identifier (IHI).
When required, your healthcare provider will access your IHI number using your current Medicare or DVA number, or by contacting us. If you are not enrolled in Medicare your healthcare provider may issue a temporary IHI when you next visit.
If a healthcare provider can’t get your IHI number from the HI Service, or the IHI is not available for any reason, you will not be refused treatment.
Viewing your IHI information
Individuals and their authorised representatives can access the information held by DHS as part of the HI Service.
You can view your IHI history online by registering for our Medicare Online. If you have already registered for Online Services, simply logon to look up your IHI history.
Requesting a pseudonym IHI
If you need to hide your identity, for example, if you have concerns for your personal safety or that of your family, you can request a pseudonym IHI. A pseudonym IHI can be issued to you under a name of your choice, and will not be linked to the IHI in your real name or to your Medicare number (if you have one).
There are important things to know about pseudonym IHIs:
- you can only hold one pseudonym IHI at a time
- you can choose to merge your pseudonym IHI with the IHI in your real name at any time
- if you seek treatment using your pseudonym IHI, you will not be able to receive payments from programs administered by DHS, such as Medicare or the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
If you need a pseudonym IHI, visit your local DHS Service Centre or download an application form.