Court decision concludes legal proceedings against HealthEngine
HealthEngine would like to share that we have reached the conclusion of legal proceedings brought against us by the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC).
We are a consent-driven platform that helps patients manage their healthcare by connecting them with the healthcare services they need.
We got something wrong
The services in question – the Practice Recognition System and private health insurance comparison services – were either discontinued or significantly overhauled two years ago, prior to HealthEngine being formally advised of any ACCC investigation.
When the ACCC commenced legal action against HealthEngine nearly a year ago, we acknowledged that our rapid growth over the years had sometimes outpaced our systems and processes. We sincerely apologised that we had not always met the high expectations of the community and our customers.
Good intentions do not excuse poor execution and this process has given us a greater understanding of our operational shortcomings, which we’ve addressed.
That said, our apology remains.
HealthEngine made some mistakes with the way it published practice ratings and reviews submitted by patients, and did not sufficiently communicate to consumers who requested a call regarding a private health insurance comparison that a third party, not HealthEngine, would be contacting them regarding the comparison and that we would pass-on some of their details to enable that to occur.
The arrangements HealthEngine had with private health insurance comparison services were not sufficiently clear on the booking form itself. As a result, some consumers may not have made a fully informed choice regarding the transfer of their non-clinical, personal information to a private health insurance comparison service for the purpose of getting a comparison. That was our error.
Most importantly, HealthEngine is confident that no clinical data was shared with private health insurance comparison services and no adverse health outcomes were created by these issues.
Did you sell user databases or clinical information to private health insurance comparison services?
No. HealthEngine never has, and never will, sell user databases to third parties. Further, the only time we provide clinical information to third parties is to a consumer’s nominated healthcare provider to deliver the healthcare services requested by that consumer.
We did, however, provide personal information to private health insurance comparison services when consumers specifically requested a call regarding a health insurance comparison. Those consumers may have thought HealthEngine would contact them regarding the comparison, not a third party health insurance comparison service – and that was an error on our part and for which we apologise.
What does HealthEngine have to do?
HealthEngine and the ACCC attended court-ordered mediation, after which they put joint submissions and proposed orders to the Federal Court. In the joint submissions, the ACCC acknowledged that the contraventions did not relate to medical or clinical matters; that there was no suggestion that senior management intended to breach Australian consumer law; and HealthEngine co-operated with the ACCC throughout the investigation.
After considering the submissions, the Federal Court made orders that HealthEngine pay a financial penalty; notify consumers who requested a call regarding a health insurance comparison that HealthEngine did not clearly communicate on the booking form that a third party would contact them regarding the comparison and that we would pass-on consumer details to enable that to occur and commission an annual independent review of our Australian Consumer Law compliance program for the next three years.
While the legal proceedings have now concluded, it in no way ends our desire to continue to rebuild trust with patients and practices. Our mission to enable better healthcare experiences and outcomes remains at the heart of everything we do.
Finally, we want to thank our practice customers and HealthEngine users for their ongoing support.
Dr Marcus Tan
CEO, Co-Founder and Medical Director