As your doctor, my staff and I are bound by law and ethics to safeguard your Privacy and the confidentiality of your personal information.
• collecting only the information that may be necessary for your care;
• keeping accurate and up-to-date records;
• safeguarding information with other health-care providers and organizations on a "need to know" basis where required for your health care;
• disclosing information to third parties only with your express consent, or when necessary for legal reasons; and
• retaining/destroying records in accordance with the law.
Your request for care from me implies consent for our collection, use and disclosure of your personal information for purposes related to your care. As noted above, other purposes require your express consent.
You have the right to see your records. You may also obtain copies of your records, please see the receptionist for our fees for this service. Please speak to me if you have concerns about the accuracy of your records.
If your complaint is not resolved to your satisfaction by my office, you may wish to contact the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario at (416) 326-3333 or 1 (800) 387-0073.
PROTECTING YOUR PERSONAL HEALTH INFORMATION
As a patient of trueNorth Medical Centre, you will be asked on a number of occasions to provide us with personal health information that will assist us in the provision of your care.
You can be assured that the confidentiality of your personal health information will be protected regardless of where or how this information is collected, used or disclosed by trueNorth Medical Centre.
WHAT IS PERSONAL HEALTH INFORMATION?
Personal health information is anything that can identify you as an individual such as your name, your health card number, or other personally identifying information which can be connected to your health status or care such as a test result with your name on it. Keeping it private means you as a patient, have the right to know and control how this information is being used in the clinic. It also means trueNorth Medical Centre has an obligation to ensure that the information is kept confidential.
WHAT WILL TRUENORTH MEDICAL CENTRE DO WITH MY INFORMATION?
trueNorth Medical Centre may collect, use or disclose patient personal information for the purpose of:
• Providing health care or assisting in providing health care to the individual;
• Planning or delivering research programs or services funded by Canadian Immunodeficiency Research Collaborative (MLR);
• Evaluating, monitoring and allocating resources to programs and services provided by either trueNorth Medical Centre or MLR;
• Activities to improve quality of care or quality of any related program or service;
• Processing, monitoring, verifying or reimbursing claims for payment under any Act;
• Research, as approved by a Research Ethics Board;
• Anonymizing or de-identifying the information;
• Teaching and education;
• As otherwise consented to by the individual; and
• As otherwise permitted, authorized or required by law.
WHO HAS ACCESS TO MY PERSONAL INFORMATION?
All authorized agents and third parties are contractually obligated to protect your personal information privacy on behalf of trueNorth Medical Centre. Access may be provided to:
• agents of trueNorth Medical Centre such as medical staff, employees and authorized contractors;
• other health care facilities or services that may be providing you with care;
• in the case of an emergency, a person who may be able to contact your relatives or friends;
• the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and their designated agents;
• a government approved registry of personal health information that relates to a specific disease or condition or that relates to the storage or donation of body parts or substances e.g. apheresis;
• the Chief Medical Officer of Health or a public health authority established under the laws of Canada.
CAN I WITHHOLD CONSENT FOR THE USE OF MY PERSONAL HEALTH INFORMATION?
You have the right to withhold your consent where consent is required, unless it would compromise the care we intend to deliver to you and others.
For research purposes, you will be given an opportunity to opt-out of further contact for these activities should you be contacted by a clinic representative for these reasons following your care.
If you would like to remove your name from our research list or have a question regarding your ability to withdraw consent, please speak with your physician at trueNorth Medical Centre. If she/he is unable to help you with your inquiry, she/he will then contact the Privacy Officer at trueNorth Medical Centre.
GETTING ACCESS TO YOUR HEALTH RECORD
For assistance in submitting a request for access to patient information, please direct your request to the Reception area at your doctor's office.
OUR EMAIL POLICY
Physicians may choose to communicate with patients via email if appropriate. To receive our emails, please remember to whitelist our domain in your address book (truenorthmedical.com), and/or to check your junk/spam folder.
Our office staff and physicians use reasonable means to protect the security and confidentiality of email information sent and received. However, because of the risks identified below, we cannot guarantee the security and confidentiality of email communication. Please read below:
Emergency problems: Email should never be used for emergency problems. In the event of an emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest Hospital Emergency Room.
Urgent problems: Email should never be used for urgent problems. In these cases, the patient should call or go to an Emergency Room.
Sensitive Medical Information: Email should be concise. If the patient has a problem that is too complex or sensitive to discuss via email, the patient should make an appointment at our centre.
Risks Associated with using email
Some, but not all, of the risks with email are listed here:
- Email can be immediately broadcast worldwide and received by many intended and unintended recipients;
- Email senders can easily misaddress an email;
- Email is easier to falsify than handwritten or signed documents;
- Backup copies of email may exist even after the sender or recipient has deleted his or her copy;
- Employers and on-line services have a right to archive and inspect emails transmitted through their systems;
- Email can be intercepted, altered, forwarded, or used without authorization or detection;
- Email can be used to introduce system computer viruses; and
- Email can be used as evidence in court.
Consent to the use of email includes agreement with the following conditions:
1. PATIENT OBLIGATIONS WHEN CONSENTING TO EMAIL
- The patient shall not use email for medical emergencies, urgent problems or other time sensitive matters.
- If the patient's email requires or invites a response from the staff or physicians, and the patient has not received a response within a reasonable time period, it is the patient's responsibility to follow up to determine whether the intended recipient received the email and when the recipient will respond.
- All email messages to or from the patient concerning diagnosis or treatment will be imported into and made part of the patient's electronic medical record. Because they are part of the medical record, other individuals authorized to access the medical record, such as secretarial staff, nurses and billing personnel, will have access to those email messages.
- Medical staff may forward emails internally to members of the Physician's staff if necessary for diagnosis, treatment, reimbursement, and other handling. Staff will not, however, forward emails to independent third parties without the patient's prior written consent, except as authorized or required by law.
- The patient should not use email for communication regarding sensitive medical information, such as information regarding sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS/HIV, mental health, developmental disability, or substance abuse.
- The patient is responsible for informing Provider of any types of information the patient does not want to be sent by email, in addition to those set out above.
2. PATIENT RESPONSIBILITIES AND INSTRUCTIONS
To communicate by email, the patient shall:
a. Limit or avoid use of his/her employer's computer.
b. Inform Provider of changes in his/her email address.
c. Confirm that he/she has received and read the email from the office staff or physician.
d. Put the patient's name in the body of the email, including a phone number at which the patient can be reached.
e. Include the category of the communication in the email's subject line, for routing purposes (e.g. billing question).
f. Review the email to make sure it is clear and that all relevant information is provided before sending to Provider.
g. Take precautions to preserve the confidentiality of email, such as using screen savers and safeguarding his/her computer password.
h. Withdraw consent by email or written communication to Provider.
3. ALTERNATE FORMS OF COMMUNICATION
The patient understands that he/she may also communicate with the physician via telephone or during a scheduled appointment and that email is not a substitute for the care that may be provided during an office visit. Appointments should be made to discuss any new issues as well as any sensitive medical information.
4. TYPES OF EMAIL TRANSMISSIONS THAT PATIENT AGREES TO SEND AND/OR RECEIVE
The types of information that can be communicated via email with the physician include patient referral information and appointment reminders, health card number clarification and patient information, and may include communication of results. If you are not sure if the issue you wish to discuss should be included in an email, you should call the Provider's office to schedule an appointment.
5. SECURITY MEASURES USED BY THE PROVIDER
As stated above, communicating via email does come with privacy risk. While the office staff and physicians cannot guarantee total confidentiality, they will use reasonable safeguards to protect your health care information as required by law.
6. TERMINATION OF THE EMAIL RELATIONSHIP
The Provider shall have the right to immediately terminate the email relationship with you if he/she determines, in his/her sole discretion, that you have violated the terms and conditions set forth above or otherwise breached this agreement, or have engaged in conduct which the Provider determines, in his/her sole discretion, to be unacceptable. The email relationship between the Provider and the patient will terminate in the event the Provider, in his/her sole discretion, no longer wishes to utilize the email to communicate with all of his/her patients.
7. PATIENT ACKNOWLEDGEMENT AND AGREEMENT
The patient acknowledges that he/she has read and fully understands this policy. The patient understands the risks associated with the communication of email between the Provider and his/herself, and consents to the conditions herein. In addition, the patient agrees to the instructions outlined herein, as well as any other instructions the Provider may impose to communicate with patients by email.