How is the privacy of cancer patients protected when using teleoncology?

From Cancer Guidelines Wiki


In healthcare privacy and confidentiality are linked. Privacy is an individual's responsibility to ensure their behaviour is not intrusive to others. Confidentiality is the non-disclosure of private information to a unauthorised person or organisation.

In telehealth, aspects of privacy and confidentiality are similar to that of face to face care. Additional considerations exist in relation to technology and internet safety.[1][2] Organisations such as the Royal Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians have developed guidelines and suggestions for addressing privacy and confidentiality when using telehealth in Australia.

Practice Points

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It is advisable that organisations ensure that electronic transfer of patient information occurs only by secure encrypted networks, and that policies and procedures are in place to protect data stored on mobile devices.

It is advisable that organisations identify and implement steps in addition to current policies and procedures to ensure patient privacy during video-consultations. This could include:

  • Having a system to ensure that there are no interruptions at the specialist and patient ends of the consultation.
  • Requesting that patients participating in a telehealth consultation from home do so in a quiet room where they will not be disturbed.
  • Introducing and acknowledging everyone present in the room during the consultation.
  • Alerting other staff that a telehealth consultation is about to occur and asking not to be disturbed.
  • Informing the patient and receiving their consent if there is a clinically appropriate reason for the recording of a consultation.
  • Storing any recording made during the consultation securely to ensure privacy and confidentiality is maintained.
  • Choosing videoconferencing hardware and software that has security features to ensure privacy and confidentiality.

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  1. Kontaxakis G, Visvikis D, Ohl R, Sachpazidis I, Suarez JP, Selby P, et al. Integrated telemedicine applications and services for oncological positron emission tomography. Oncol Rep 2006;15 Spec no.:1091-100 Abstract available at
  2. Mohammadzadeh N, Safdari R, Rahimi A. Multi-agent systems: effective approach for cancer care information management. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev 2013;14(12):7757-9 Abstract available at

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