ADAVB Chief Executive Officer's Comments
March 2018 Hide Comments
Are you meeting your privacy obligations?
As more dental practices move to completely electronic record keeping, it is important to be aware of several key privacy and security issues, particularly in the wake of data security breaches in other parts of the world. For instance, in recent times we have seen personal information collected by the Red Cross and National Australia Bank become publicly available.
The Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) defines health information as any information about:
  • The health or disability of an individual 
  • An individual’s expressed wishes about the future provision of health services 
  • A health service provided or to be provided 
  • Other personal information collected to provide a health service
Dentists and dental specialists routinely share health information about patients with each other and with other health professionals to provide the highest level of health care to their patients. As the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) notes, practitioners have an ethical and legal obligation to protect the privacy of their patients, and this extends to transmission of patient information. Dentists need to be aware that standard email is not secure, and that in using it to transmit health information, they are at risk of breaching their obligations.
To this end, ADAVB has partnered with Mediref to offer a free trial of its secure messaging service. Mediref was started by a Western Australian dentist and pharmacist to facilitate secure sharing of patient information. Feedback we have received from a number of current users is that the platform works well to help them easily share data in a safe and secure manner. For more information on the Mediref free trial, see page 6.
The Privacy Amendment (Notifiable Data Breaches) Bill 2016 came into effect on 22 February 2018, and now makes it compulsory to report data breaches under certain circumstances, where that breach is likely to cause serious harm. ADA has previously written about this in the June 2017 News Bulletin, and has developed a Data Breach Response Plan, available on its website under the Members section. For more guidance materials on the mandatory data notification scheme, please visit 
Finally, members should consider whether they have adequate security to protect their electronic records, and appropriate cyber data risk insurance to cover them in case of a breach.
Some members have raised concerns about their own privacy in relation to email advertisements from third parties. I can assure members that ADAVB does not provide member contact details or personal information to third parties under any circumstance, other than with eviDent Foundation as part of our agreement with them. Dental companies and private continuing education providers source their emailing lists from a variety of sources, but the ADAVB is not one.
ADAVB and Professionals Australia continue to try to negotiate with the Victorian Government to improve the conditions for Victorian public sector dentists, who are paid on average 40 per cent less than their interstate colleagues. We see this as more than simply an equity issue – it goes to the heart of how dentistry is viewed by politicians, at both the state and federal level. While health ministers point fingers and play the blame game, public sector waiting lists continue to grow and more pressure is placed on the workforce. Our colleagues working in the public sector need our support to improve the profile of dentistry in Victoria. 
Members may have noticed that 2018 has kicked off with a bang as far as advocacy around sugar is concerned. There has been a steady stream of reports across the media linking sugar consumption to a range of health problems and calling for policy measures to address this, including a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. 
ADAVB was involved, through our role in the Rethink Sugary Drink campaign, in the launch of the latest Live Lighter campaign focusing on frozen soft drinks in January. There are now billboard and public transport stop advertisements warning of the high levels of sugar that these frozen drinks contain – some up to 20 teaspoons – and the outrageously low prices charged. We are continuing our work with a range of organisations to raise awareness in the community of the significant health impacts of added sugar, including tooth decay, which affects one in three Australian children by the age of five–six years. 
I believe that dentists have an important role to play in this debate, and I encourage you to become more active in your local community to advocate for measures that help to improve oral health.
A/Prof Matt Hopcraft

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Clinical A/Prof Matthew Hopcraft
Chief Executive Officer
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