Healthcare Identifiers Service
The accurate identification of individuals is critical in all health communication. Use of healthcare identifiers in medical information provides a way for you to more accurately match the right records to the person you are treating, and improve accuracy when communicating information with other healthcare providers.
The Healthcare Identifiers Act 2010 (the Act) specifies that healthcare identifiers are to be used for healthcare and related management purposes with penalties in place for misuse. The inclusion of healthcare identifiers in a health record system or patient file does not change when you share information about individuals, but enables a much more reliable way of referencing information, particularly in electronic communications and information management systems.
Read the HI Service Information Guide for important information about getting, using and disclosing healthcare identifiers.
To access healthcare identifiers to use for authorised purposes you need to be registered in the HI Service administered by the department.
Types of Healthcare Identifiers
Individual Healthcare Identifier (IHI) - for individuals receiving healthcare services. IHIs are automatically assigned to every person enrolled in the Medicare program or registered with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Other individuals, such as overseas visitors, can apply directly to the HI Service for an IHI.
Healthcare Provider Identifier–Individual (HPI–I) - for individual healthcare providers such as GPs, allied health professionals, nurses, dentists and pharmacists who are involved in providing patient care.
Healthcare Provider Identifier–Organisation (HPI–O) - for organisations that deliver healthcare, such as hospitals or general practices.
Other organisations that provide support to you and assist in the delivery of eHealth may need to access healthcare identifiers on your behalf. These organisations need to register in the HI Service to be assigned a HI Service registration number:
- Contracted service providers - generally IT organisations that provide management or communication of health information on your behalf
- General supporting organisations - organisations that provide infrastructure and information for the eHealth record system. They can also communicate with you and other supporting organisations
Access to healthcare identifiers and the HI Service
To access healthcare identifiers you must have a Medicare Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) certificate. These can be requested on all HI Service registration forms, or can be requested at a later date.
A Medicare PKI site certificate is required for organisations to access healthcare identifiers and other organisations' contact details, using appropriate patient administration systems or practice management software. A Medicare PKI Individual certificate is required to access other functions, such as updating contact details.
The functions you have access to depend on the software you have. Contact your software provider for more information about software available to you.
To access HI Service functions through HPOS you must have a Medicare PKI Individual certificate. IHIs are not available through HPOS.
Healthcare Provider Directory
The Healthcare Provider Directory is a consent-based listing of HPI-Os and HPI-Is. It can include business and service details that you choose to make available. Being published in the directory allows you to search it for contact, speciality details and healthcare identifiers of other registered healthcare providers in the directory, and vice versa. This can be useful when sending secure messages, referrals, discharge summaries and forwarding test requests for patients.
You can consent to a directory entry when you apply for your HPI-O, or you can apply for one at a later date.
If you are an individual healthcare provider whose profession is regulated by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), when you consent to the inclusion of your professional and business details in the directory, you are also consenting to the directory being updated to reflect any changes to those details held by AHPRA. Access to the directory is through appropriate patient administration systems or practice management software, or online through HPOS.
Applying for Healthcare Identifiers Service
Individual healthcare providers registered with AHPRA are automatically assigned a HPI-I.
Contact AHPRA or the HI Service Operator to find out your HPI-I.
If you practice a healthcare profession not regulated by AHPRA you need to complete the appropriate form to apply for your HPI-I.
Representatives of healthcare provider organisations need to complete the appropriate form to apply for an HPI-O.
Application forms for NASH PKI certificates, which enable access to the eHealth record system, are also on the forms page.
To be eligible for a healthcare identifier assigned by the HI Service, you must be either:
- a healthcare provider:
- an organisation where healthcare is provided (a healthcare provider organisation)
- a health professional (an individual healthcare provider)
- an organisation that assists in the delivery of eHealth (a contracted service provider or general supporting organisation)
Updating your details
Once an individual healthcare provider or healthcare provider organisation has a healthcare identifier, you must make sure you update the HI Service with any changes, including contact details, employee details, or ownership of organisations.
Healthcare providers can update most details either through appropriate software or online through HPOS. Individual healthcare providers registered with AHPRA will need to contact the agency to update AHPRA registration details.
The fastest way to manage details in the HI Service is online through HPOS. A Medicare PKI Individual certificate in needed to access HPOS.
Alternatively, your software may have the functionality to manage these details - speak to your software vendor for information about what your software can do.
Healthcare provider organisation representatives can:
- manage contact details - such as email addresses and telephone numbers - for seed and network organisations
- create new network organisations
- create and manage Healthcare Provider Directory entries
- create and manage Healthcare Provider Directory links to individual healthcare providers working at the organisation
- search the Healthcare Provider Directory for healthcare identifiers of other registered healthcare providers
- manage eHealth record system authorisation links to individual healthcare providers and contracted service providers
Individual healthcare providers not registered with AHPRA can:
- manage existing and add new contact details, such as email addresses and telephone numbers
- select preferred mailing addresses
- manage Healthcare Provider Directory entries
Individual healthcare providers registered with AHPRA can do the same except manage existing details provided by AHPRA.
Change of ownership
A healthcare provider organisation must tell the Healthcare Identifiers Service Operator or changes affecting their eligibility to have a Healthcare Provider Identifier - Organisation (HPI-O). This includes a change of ownership.
When a healthcare provider organisation initially registers in the HI Service, we get documentation that:
- proves the organisation is a business entity
- proves the identity of the responsible officer (RO), and
- the RO is authorised to act on behalf of the organisation when working with the HI Service
If a healthcare provider organisation changes ownership, we need to make sure these conditions are still met by the new owners.
Organisations that still operate in the same way they did prior to the change of ownership will retain their HPI-O. For example if the organisation still operates as a general practice or hospital after the sale, their HPI-O will remain the same.
What you need to provide depends on your healthcare provider organisation's situation. A change of ownership can be either simple or complex.
Simple change of ownership
This relates to stand-alone healthcare provider organisations, or seed organisations where the change of ownership does not result in any changes to an existing network hierarchy.
You will need to provide:
- Application to amend a Healthcare Organisation Record form (HW037)
- relevant supporting documentation, including evidence of business identity, such as an ASIC document, for the new owner
If the original responsible officer (RO) will still act in the same role after the change, provide evidence of the RO's authority to act on behalf of the new seed organisation ownership for the purposes of the HI Service. Attach to form HW037.
If there is a new RO or Organisation Maintenance Officer (OMO) complete the Application to replace a Responsible Officer or add/remove an Organisation Maintenance Officer for an Organisation form (HW040).
Complex change of ownership
This relates to either seed or network healthcare provider organisations where network hierarchy changes are involved.
If your network organisation is becoming a seed organisation, you need to provide:
- Application to Register a Seed Organisation form (HW018) and associated documentation
- a letter stating the names and HPI-Os of any networks that may move with the new seed and any changes in the hierarchy structure
- if applicable a letter from the previous owner agreeing to the loss of any networks moving with the new seed organisation
If your seed organisation is a network of another organisation, or your network organisation is moving under a different seed organisation, you need to provide:
- Application to amend a Healthcare Organisation Record form (HW037)
- relevant supporting documentation, including evidence to support the new ownership arrangements
- a letter stating:
- the RO has the authority to act on behalf of the incoming organisation
- the name and HPI-O of the incoming organisation and any networks, and where they should sit in the gaining organisations's structure
- a letter from the previous RO agreeing to the loss of organisation and any networks moving with it
If there is a new OMO, the gaining seed RO or OMO must complete the following form:
- Application to replace a Responsible Officer or add/remove an Organisation Maintenance Officer for an Organisation form (HW040)
If you have questions about a change of ownership, or need help completing forms contact the Healthcare Identifiers Service Operations Team.
Amend an organisation, responsible officer or organisation maintenance officer record
- to replace a responsible officer for a seed, or to add or remove an additional organisation maintenance officer for a seed or network, use the Application to replace a Responsible Officer or add/remove an Organisation Maintenance Officer for an Organisation form (HW040)
- to change personal details of an existing responsible officer or organisation maintenance officer, use the Application to amend Organisation Officer's personal information (HW042)
- to add or change the details of an existing seed or organisation, use the Application to amend Healthcare Organisation record (HW037)
- to deactivate, reactivate or retire an organisation's healthcare identifier, use the Application to deactivate, reactivate or retire a Healthcare Organisation record (HW044)
Register or update authorised employee details
Organisations are required to provide us with details of employees who access the HI Service.
The Organisation Maintenance Officer (OMO) must have administrative access to HI Service for the organisation the authorised employee will be operating on behalf of.
To make sure those details are maintained, the OMO needs to:
- submit to the HI Service a list of the organisation's authorised employees using this register. The HI Service will store the information on behalf of the organisation, this needs to be updated with staff changes or
- make sure the software the organisation is using to connect to the HI Service includes details of authorised employees in the electronic transactions or
- make sure the organisation maintains its own complete and up-to-date list of staff details, including employees who have left the organisation for seven years after they have left
If authorised employees will be contacting the HI Service operator by phone, the OMO must complete and submit this register so their identity can be verified when they call, even if electronic transactions include authorised employee details, or the organisation maintains a list.
Organisations can log authorised employee details with the HI Service using the Healthcare Identifiers Service - Authorised employee register form [xlsx, 40kb]. This form can only be submitted online. You will need your Medicare PKI certificate.
Once completed, the spreadsheet must be submitted via the HPOS Mail Centre.
Save this Authorised Employee register and keep it as your master list.
Each time the register is submitted, it must represent the full authorised employee list from the relevant organisation. Each submitted register will replace any previously submitted register.
When completing the fields that request Employment Start Date and Employment End Date, please provide the date the authorised employee first became authorised to access the HI Service and the date the authorised employee ceased to be authorised to access the HI Service.
To ensure the authorised employee is aware their information will be collected and stored for the purpose of authenticating them to interact with the HI Service, you must obtain their consent and advise them of the purpose of collection and use by Human Services. They should read the privacy notice included on the form.
An organisation registered with the HI Service may have employees who've been authorised to search for and retrieve IHIs from the HI Service (authorised employees). Under the Healthcare Identifiers legislation, the Healthcare Identifiers Act 2010, an organisation must keep details of current and past employees for seven years after the employee has ceased employment. The HI Service can request details of authorised employees under the legislation.
Advise of a change of ownership
You must tell us about any changes to your healthcare provider organisation’s ownership arrangements, and provide the appropriate documentation. Change of ownership information details what forms and information you need to provide.
If you have any questions about a change of ownership, contact us via email at Healthcare Identifiers Service Operations Team with the subject as change of ownership.
Amend an individual healthcare provider record
If you are registered with AHPRA, you must contact the agency to make any changes AHPRA registration information.
If you have amendments to your name, date of birth or other details that require supporting documentation use the Application to amend a Healthcare Provider Record (HW034). You can also use this form to add or update Healthcare Provider Directory entries.
If you are an individual healthcare provider whose profession is regulated by AHPRA - when you consent to the inclusion of your professional and business details in the Healthcare Provider Directory, you are also consenting to the directory being updated to reflect any changes to those details held by AHPRA.
Apply for a Medicare PKI certificate
You can apply for a Medicare PKI certificate when you use one of the HI Service forms to register or update your details.
If you only need to request a Medicare PKI Certificate, complete the Application to request or update a Public Key Infrastructure Certificate form (3054-i) to request one. You need to read the appropriate Certificate Policy and Terms and Conditions before using a PKI certificate.
If you already have a PKI certificate, you can update it to include access to the HI Service by contacting us.
Amend a contracted service provider organisation or officer record
Contracted service providers can only update their information by form.
- to add, replace or remove a contracted service provider officer use the Application to register a Contracted Service Provider Organisation Record form (HW012)
- to amend details of a contracted service provider organisation use the Application to Amend Details of a Contracted Service Provider Organisation Record form (HW043)
- to amend details of a contracted service provider officer use the Application to amend a Contracted Service Provider Officer's Details form (HW047)
- to deactivate or retire a contracted service provider organisation use the Application to Deactivate or Retire a Contracted Service Provider Organisation Record form (HW048) A retired organisation in the HI Service will no longer be considered to be participating in the eHealth record system
Penalties are in place for the misuse of healthcare identifiers. We recommend you read the following documentation to get a sound understanding of the HI Service, including things you need to be aware when accessing, using and disclosing healthcare identifiers.
Read the Healthcare Identifiers Service Annual Report:
- Healthcare Identifiers Service Annual Report 2013-14 [docx, 39kb]
Previous editions of the Healthcare Identifiers Service Annual Reports.
- Healthcare Identifiers Service Annual Report 2012-13 [docx, 41kb]
- Healthcare Identifiers Service Annual Report 2011-12 [docx, 39kb]
- Healthcare Identifiers Service Annual Report 2010-11 [docx, 41kb]
Information for software vendors
If you would like to build or modify software products to incorporate connection to the HI Service, go to Information about the Healthcare Identifiers Service for developers for more information.
For further information:
- refer to the NASH PKI Certificates Software Vendor Implementation Guide [docx, 1mb]
- contact us at the Online Technical Support (OTS) Liaison Team