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“Our Medical” chain of GP clinics forcing patients to share data or pay additional fees

CHOICE calls for urgent Privacy Act reform to better protect consumers.

Last updated: 15 August 2023

A new investigation from CHOICE has found a chain of medical centres is forcing patients to sign up for an app and rewards program or pay out of pocket fees.

The Our Medical chain, which operates centres along the east coast of Australia and advertises itself as bulk billing, requires patients to hand over a significant amount of data through the company's app and rewards program. If patients refuse, they will be charged a private fee to see a GP. 

"It is incredibly alarming that people are being forced to either hand over their data or face extra fees to access essential medical care," says CHOICE consumer data advocate Kate Bower. 

"People shouldn't be forced to choose between their privacy or getting help when they're sick. Instead, we're hearing from people who have tried to book an appointment at an Our Medical clinic, only to be told they have to sign up for the rewards program or pay a $90 out of pocket fee to see a doctor," says Bower. 

Our Medical's privacy policy states that personal and health information collected on individual patients can be provided to third parties and used for marketing or research purposes, but it's unclear exactly what this means. 

"Our Medical's privacy policy is extremely opaque and difficult to decipher. Patients deserve to be able to book a doctor's visit without the risk that their personal data may be exploited for commercial purposes or shared with unknown third parties," says Bower. 

CHOICE is calling on the federal Attorney-General to fast-track proposed reforms to the Privacy Act to better protect consumers and restore the balance between businesses and their customers.

"We urgently need reform to the Privacy Act to ensure consumers and their data are effectively protected. Introducing a 'fair and reasonable use' test would ensure businesses only collect and use data for the express purpose of providing the service and not use it in ways that unfairly exploit the customer," says Bower. 

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