A pic­ture of poor health

Canning Gazette - - NEWS - Sarah Brookes

AUS­TRALIA’S con­sumer watch­dog has launched le­gal ac­tion in the Fed­eral Court against a pop­u­lar Perth-based on­line med­i­cal book­ing com­pany, al­leg­ing mis­lead­ing and de­cep­tive con­duct.

The ACCC claims that for nearly three years, Healthengi­ne ma­nip­u­lated the pa­tient re­views it pub­lished and mis­rep­re­sented to con­sumers why it did not pub­lish a rat­ing for some health prac­tices.

“We al­lege that Healthengi­ne re­fused to pub­lish neg­a­tive re­views and al­tered feed­back to re­move neg­a­tive as­pects, or to em­bel­lish it, be­fore pub­lish­ing the re­views,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

“We will ar­gue that Healthengi­ne dis­re­garded around 17,000 re­views and al­tered around 3000 be­tween March 31, 2015 to March 1, 2018.

“The ACCC con­sid­ers that the al­leged con­duct is par­tic­u­larly egre­gious be­cause pa­tients would have vis­ited doc­tors at their time of need based on ma­nip­u­lated re­views that did not ac­cu­rately re­flect the ex­pe­ri­ence of other pa­tients.”

The ACCC also al­leges that from April 30, 2014 to June 30, 2018, Healthengi­ne gave in­for­ma­tion such as names, phone num­bers, email ad­dresses and dates of birth of more than 135,000 pa­tients to pri­vate health in­sur­ance bro­kers for a fee with­out ad­e­quately dis­clos­ing to con­sumers it would do so. Healthengi­ne chief ex­ec­u­tive and founder Dr Mar­cus Tan said the com­pany had ei­ther dis­con­tin­ued or sig­nif­i­cantly over­hauled the ser­vices.

“We recog­nise that our rapid growth over the years has some­times out­paced our sys­tems and pro­cesses and we sin­cerely apol­o­gise if that has meant we have not al­ways met the high ex­pec­ta­tions of us,” he said.

“Healthengi­ne is con­fi­dent that no ad­verse health out­comes were created and that personal in­for­ma­tion was not shared un­less the in­di­vid­ual had ex­pressly re­quested to be con­tacted.”

Mr Sims said trans­parency and dis­clo­sure when dig­i­tal plat­forms col­lected con­sumer data was a top pri­or­ity at the ACCC.

Mums Deb Lawrence and Jodie Walford with Gabriel Lawrence and Mad­die Walford.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.