A picture of poor health
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.