Summary

  • If you see more than one healthcare professional, tell each of them about other treatments you are having or medication you are taking.
  • Healthcare professionals cannot share information with other healthcare professionals without your consent, so it is important to give them your permission if you would like this to happen. There are some exceptions to this, as healthcare professionals must report cases of particular diseases or child abuse.
  • Your general practitioner (GP) is often the best person to coordinate all your healthcare needs.
 
Many people consult a number of healthcare professionals, so it is important to participate in your healthcare by actively communicating with your doctor and any other healthcare professionals you see. 

Communication between you and your healthcare team

If your healthcare needs are being managed by multiple doctors and healthcare professionals, it is important to let each healthcare professional know who else you are seeing, and why. Most importantly, let them know what other treatments you are receiving or medication you are taking, including any complementary medicines.

Sometimes, your care can be better coordinated if your various healthcare professionals can talk to each other directly about your care, but you must give them your permission first. This sometimes happens in a formal way, such as when a medical centre performs a test and shares the results with your doctor, or with treatment plans where doctors and other healthcare professionals work together to manage your health. This can help prevent situations where multiple doctors’ advice conflicts. 

However, communication may not be formal and relies on you communicating your care with all your healthcare professionals.

How to share your health information

To make it easier to share your health information:

  • Give consent for all members of your healthcare team to share information about your care. This may be verbal or written consent. Be guided by your healthcare professional.
  • Appoint one healthcare professional, usually your general practitioner (GP), to oversee all your care (including drawing up a treatment plan, which can be shared) as this will help you and your doctor track your care and find problems more easily.
  • Be honest about issues that may be affecting your health, even those that may be sensitive or embarrassing to talk about.
  • Tell your doctors about the medication you are taking, including all complementary medicines and over-the-counter medication.
  • Ask each healthcare professional questions about your care, keeping notes on the answers in a notebook and taking this notebook to all appointments for easy reference. 

Benefits of sharing your health information

Allowing all the members of your healthcare team to share information about your care helps them to gain a more holistic view of you and your healthcare needs.

Sometimes, your various health concerns may seem unrelated. For example, you may be seeing a dermatologist for a skin problem, a chiropractor for lower back pain, a psychologist for a mental health problem and an acupuncturist for headaches. All four of these practitioners may prescribe some type of medication or treatment that, taken together, could reduce their effectiveness, or worse, cause you harm. 

Sharing your health information with your healthcare team can help in a number of ways, including:

  • avoiding having to repeat health information for each healthcare professional
  • avoiding having to re-take medical tests, such as scans and blood tests
  • helping you understand which healthcare professional to ask about which problem
  • reducing the chance of medical errors
  • avoiding mixing medication, which could be dangerous.

Australian Government - My Health Record system

My Health Record is an online summary of your health information. You control what goes into your record, and who is allowed to access it. Share your health information with doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers from anywhere, any time.

My Health Record gives you access to your important health information. It keeps details like allergies, medical conditions and treatments, medicine details, and test or scan results in one place.

Healthcare providers like doctors, specialists and hospital staff may also be able to see your My Health Record online at any time if they need to, such as in an accident or emergency.

Where to get help 

  • Your GP (doctor)
  • Healthcare professional
  • myGov website
References

Health Consumers Queensland, Getting the healthcare you need, p.17+, More information here.
WebMD, Working with more than one doctor, More information here. 

National health and medical research council, Talking with your patients about complementary medicine - a resource for clinicians, More information here. 

Live Strong, Communicating with your health care team, More information here.

Lymphoma Research Foundation, Communicating with your healthcare team, More information here.
Department of Health, eHealth, More information here.

More information

Seeing a doctor, specialist or health professional topics

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This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by: Department of Health and Human Services

Last updated: September 2015

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