Australian Government - Department of Health - Office of Hearing Services
Hearing Services Program
Australian Government Crest, Department of Health, Hearing Services Program

Contracted Service Provider Notice

Electronic Signature Policy
(CSPN - 2015/12)

Dear Service Providers

We would like to announce the release of our new electronic signature policy allowing service providers and clients to submit documents, forms, certificates and correspondence comprising electronic and digitised signatures.  This follows the recent decision to accept electronic or digitised signatures on the new medical certificate form which is required to certify whether there are contraindications to the fitting of a hearing device.

Why make the change?

More business transactions and undertakings are now carried out through digital means. The Electronic Transactions Act 1999 (ETA) makes provision for this change, stating that if a person or persons are asked to produce or provide information in writing, that person or persons may, given the appropriate circumstances, provide that information in an electronic manner (subsection 9(1)).

Subsection 10(1) makes reference to the signing of a document using electronic means. The requirements of a signature according to the ETA are that it must

  • Serve to both identify the person and that person’s intention towards the material it is attached to (subsection 10(1a)); and
  • Be a reliable and appropriate method for the purpose of the communication (subsection 10(1bi)).

These changes to the way that the Office accepts forms from service provides is in line with the current Government’s deregulation agenda, as it will reduce processing times for private businesses and lessen red-tape burden for stakeholders.

Definitions

Electronic Submission/delivery The subject matter of the form is completed and the form is transmitted to the intended recipient using an electronic means such as email or facsimile.

Electronic Completion The form is completed using a computer to fill in the required input using either a .pdf editing program (e.g. Adobe® Reader®) or a word processing program (e.g. Microsoft® Word)

Digitising The act of making a digital representation of a document or part of a document that can then be used in electronic documents.

Electronic Signature A signature that identifies an individual using a computer generated means. The most common example is the signature block affixed to emails.

Digitised Signature An analogue of hand written signature of an individual that has been digitised for use with electronic documents.

eSignature

An ink stamp may be fixed to a program form before it is digitised or an electronic equivalent may be affixed to the document electronically. It is also possible to accept electronically completed forms which are not stamped, as long as the information that would be in the stamp is included in the other fields of the form. An example of an electronic stamp is shown in figure 1.

Digitised Signature

In the case of electronic documents, certificates, letters and correspondence a digitised signature can be attached to identify the person and person’s intention towards the material it is attached. An example of a digitised signature is shown in Figure 2.

The Office of Hearing Services would appreciate any feedback regarding the implementation or use of the Electronic Signature Policy or if you have any questions please contact the Office via email to hearing @health.gov.au.

Figure 1 – Digitised Stamp

The Stamp shown is digitised from a new voucher request form.  The use of a digitised stamp would be appropriate in the circumstance of fax, whereas an electronic version of this (shown below) would be sufficient to use in an electronically completed certificate.  This electronic stamp may also serve as an electronic signature as it identifies the individual unambiguaously.   .Sample image of a digitised stamp displaying doctors details

Figure 2 – Digitised Signature

Sample digital signature

 

Yours sincerely

(signed)

Trisha Garrett
Assistant Secretary
Hearing and Diagnostic Imaging Services

11 June 2015

Download this CSPN Contracted Service Provider Notice - 2015/12