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What you need to know about the Individual Health Identifier (IHI)

Know what support services are available in Australia

Young international student with his backpack wearing a light green shirt
Young international student with his backpack wearing a light green shirt

When you're overseas, away from family and familiar friends, you need to prioritise your health. Looking after yourself starts with feeling prepared and knowing what support services are available if and when you need them. Staying well whilst studying means being able to rely on quick, easy and safe healthcare advice and support. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many challenges in accessing healthcare, and continues to transform the way we live, work and interact with our world. It has also changed the way we access health services, and it is important to be aware of how this may affect you. 

What is the IHI? 

An Individual Healthcare Identifier (IHI) is a unique 16-digit number used in Australian healthcare system to identify an individual. It helps doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers to access your My Health Record - an online summary of any treatments you are receiving and any relevant health issues you may be experiencing.   

The My Health Record provides a centralised, safe, secure snapshot of your medical history. It allows for information to be available to your healthcare provider at the point of care. This means safer, more reliable services. 

As an international student, you're eligible for an IHI, and it is essential that you apply for one. 

What can you use your IHI for? 

You will need an IHI to be eligible for My Health Record. Additionally, having an IHI and a My Health Record allows for the issuing of e-scripts. E-scripts are crucial if you want to be using nib’s telehealth GP consultation service, which is a phone call to your GP from the comfort of your own home. 

In 2020, telehealth consultations gained traction as a means of accessing healthcare during lockdowns, and their popularity continued to grow. nib OSHC members can access this service with no extra charge, as nib provides full coverage. Whether you require a medical certificate, prescription, or are feeling under the weather, you can now consult a general practitioner from the comfort of your own home. 

By having an IHI, you are able to be issued an e-script and utilise the convenience of telehealth.  

An electronic prescription, or e-script, is a digital version of a paper prescription. When you call your healthcare provider and chat to them over a call, they may send you the e-script via your email or phone number. The script can then be stored on your digital device and is accessible whenever you’re ready, saving you time and improving safety. 

Thankfully, all medicines can be prescribed using an e-script and so a telehealth service can serve you for more of your needs. 

Three young female international students having coffee and juice at a cafe in Australia

How do you apply for an IHI? 

The below video is a step by step guide and will help you obtain your IHI: 

Credit: nib Health

As an international student, the quickest way to get an IHI is through your myGov account. myGov is the Australian government’s online provision of it's services. If you don’t have a myGov account yet, there is online step-by-step assistance to help you set it up. 

You’ll need one of the following identification documents: 

  • Your passport, with a valid Australian visa; or 

  • Your Australian driver licence. 

Alternatively, if you are having trouble with providing these documents, you can try applying for your IHI by completing the request an Individual Healthcare Identifier form.   

Is the IHI free? 

The IHI is a publicly free service that helps to improve personal wellbeing, plus better inform the provision of health services for all those living in Australia. This is done by allowing for professionals to better understand their patient’s needs and treat people holistically. 

Is my data kept private? 

Your healthcare identifier information is stored in strict compliance with security and privacy controls. For example, Australian legislation specifies that healthcare identifiers can be used for healthcare and related management purposes only. Plus, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner is the independent regular which manages the privacy of IHI. 

Living, working and studying away from home requires you to be feeling your best. To properly settle into your new home, you need to be able to access the right health services that suit your need and schedule. The telehealth service makes this happen. By applying for an IHI, you can ensure that you have the benefit of convenient, simple and reliable healthcare from telehealth and e-script. 

Contact Us to find out more about health services in Australia and how to stay healthy whilst studying and discover the range of cover available to meet your needs.