The Department of Health has chosen HealthEngine to build the system that Australians will use to book their COVID-19 vaccine. It’s the same company that has a history of sharing personal information about customers.
The federal government’s selection of HealthEngine to create a system that will be used to help Australians book appointments to visit clinics to get the vaccine was first reported by iTnews on Monday.
HealthEngine’s system will be available for GPs clinics, pharmacies, state-run vaccination clinics and other approved health service providers who don’t already have a booking system.
In a statement, the company said the system will be a standalone product that “complies with government requirements around accessibility, privacy and security.”
The vaccine booking platform will integrate into their other systems for existing HealthEngine customers.
HealthEngine CEO Dr Marcus Tan said that they were honoured to be selected by the Department of Health for the job.
“Given the very tight timeframes involved and the complexity of such a project, we are under no illusions about the challenge we have signed up to,” he said in a statement.
“However, the opportunity to support a historic public health effort involving millions of Australians by assisting the Federal government with a very important piece of national digital health infrastructure, was one we simply couldn’t pass up.”
This is an interesting decision because the government’s own consumer watchdog has recently taken action against the company for sharing customer data with private insurance brokers.
In August last year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission fined HealthEngine $2.9 million for “engaging in misleading conduct” after the company sold non-medical data about its customers to private health brokers. This was done without adequately informing them about misleading customers by censoring or editing reviews between 2014 and 2018.
These are the people who they’re trusting with your data! Perhaps there were few other options, but it is certainly a curious choice for the government to slap HealthEngine on the wrist using one hand while reaching hanging into its pocket with the other.