Are Electronic Signatures Legal in Aus Healthcare?
Under Australian law, electronic signatures can be legally binding and used within healthcare. Over the past decade, we’ve seen more and more healthcare providers adopting electronic signatures. Thanks to electronic signatures, healthcare providers can collect signatures faster and more cost effectively. By 2020, it’s estimated that over 100 million documents will be electronically signed within Australia.
Relevant laws surrounding electronic signatures
According to the Electronic Transactions Act (1999), almost all documents can be signed by electronic signature or approval with a few exceptions. According to the law, electronically signed documents are enforceable in court, the same as documents signed with wet-ink.
Use cases for electronic signatures within healthcare
Here are a few examples of documents you can have signed or approved electronically:
Informed Financial Consent
New patient forms
Privacy Practice Notice
Considerations when applying electronic signatures to documents in Australia
Who signs a document?
Similar to signing a document with wet-ink, it is important to know and verify whether a specific individual has signed a document. If a patient, guardian or carer is using an electronic signature software, it’s important that the software has a unique and secure login for the individual so that the signatory is uniquely identified.
Are the documents unchangeable after signing?
It is important that no edits can be made to the document after it has been electronically signed or approved. Once it has been signed, a copy should be sent to all relevant parties so that revisions can be tracked.
Was there a clear intention to sign the document?
There should be a clear call-to-action when asking an individual for their signature. Signatories should be able to review documents before applying their signature to ensure they are signing the relevant document and understand its terms and conditions.
The benefits of using electronic signatures can outweigh the cons for your business. Electronic signatures can help you to save time and money whilst also making your patients happier.