Healthcare Identifiers Service

A national system for uniquely identifying healthcare providers and individuals that makes sure health information is associated with the right individual.

About the service

Healthcare identifiers are the building block for eHealth in Australia, including the Personally Controlled eHealth Record (eHealth record) system. They are unique 16 digit numbers that help your healthcare provider make sure your personal health information is linked with the right person - you.

If you are enrolled in Medicare, or hold a Department of Veterans' Affairs treatment card, you have been allocated an Individual Healthcare Identifier (IHI). If you are not eligible for these programs, for example, you are a visitor to Australia or an international student, you can still apply for an IHI.

You do not need to remember or do anything with your IHI. It does not replace your Medicare or Department of Veterans' Affairs number and does not affect the way you claim medical benefits.

Types of Healthcare Identifiers

There are 3 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, like a hospital or medical clinic, where healthcare is provided

Viewing your IHI information

You can view your IHI and IHI history online if you are registered for a Medicare online account, or you can contact us or visit your local Medicare service centre.

Privacy

Your IHI may be given to your healthcare provider or authorised employees of a healthcare organisation, as authorised by law.

The system does not allow for browsing of records. A request for your IHI will only be given when there is an exact match with the patient information given. Each time your IHI is accessed, the details of who requested your identifier is recorded in your IHI history. Penalties for the intentional misuse of an IHI are set out in legislation and current privacy laws apply.

How and when we can collect, use and disclose your personal information is outlined in the Healthcare Identifiers Act 2010, the Privacy Act 1988, and the 13 Australian Privacy Principles.

More information about the Australian privacy principles can be found on the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner website.

Collection of personal information

Collection of personal information is authorised by the Healthcare Identifiers Act and the Healthcare Identifiers Regulations 2010.

We may collect your personal information:

  • directly from you
  • from the department, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs or the Department of Defence
  • from a registration authority responsible under a law for registering members of a particular health profession

With your consent, we may use your personal information to maintain the Healthcare Provider Directory.

Disclosure of personal information

Under the Heathcare Identifiers Act, we may disclose your personal information to:

  • healthcare providers, authorised employees of healthcare providers or contracted service providers so they can communicate or manage a patient’s health information as part of their healthcare
  • a person to whom you have authorised disclosure of personal information
  • registration authorities that are responsible under a law for registering members of a particular health profession for the specific purpose of assigning healthcare identifiers to their registrants
  • the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records System Operator
  • entities that issue security credentials for the specific purpose of authenticating a healthcare provider’s identity in electronic transmissions

Read more about your right to privacy.

Requesting a pseudonym IHI

If you need to hide your identity, you can be issued with a pseudonym IHI. This provides a high level of privacy. When using the pseudonym IHI, you cannot access services from us, including Medicare or the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. 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 1 at a time
  • you can choose to merge your pseudonym IHI with the IHI in your real name at any time

If you need a pseudonym IHI, download an Application to request a pseudonym Individual Healthcare Identifier record  form or visit your local Medicare service centre.

eHealth record

An eHealth record is a secure online summary of your health information. The eHealth record system uses your IHI to create an online health summary.

Read more about eHealth records on the Department of Health website.