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Protecting Personal Health Information in the Electronic Health Record

Archived Backgrounder

Protecting Personal Health Information in the Electronic Health Record

Ministry of Health

Ontario is intending to re-introduce protections to personal health information as first presented in the Electronic Personal Health Information Protection Act in 2013. This is part of a broader package of amendments the government intends to introduce to the Personal Health Information Protection Act.

The proposed protections would help keep the personal health information contained in the Electronic Health Record--a province wide system that allows health records to be shared between health care providers--safe and secure. 

The government worked closely with the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario on these proposed changes, which would, if passed:

  • Establish privacy and security requirements for the shared Electronic Health Record
  • Clarify the authorities under which health care providers may collect, use and disclose personal health information in the Electronic Health Record
  • Support quality clinical care for patients by reducing medication errors that can arise for patients taking more than one drug
  • Outline rules respecting an individual's right to mask his or her personal health information through a consent directive
  • Clarify the limited circumstances under which a health care provider may override an individual's consent directive to reduce significant risk of serious bodily harm when timely consent is not possible
  • Establish an advisory committee whose role would be to make recommendations to the Minister on matters related to the Electronic Health Record

As part of the Electronic Health Record, more than 12,000 health care providers to date--including 80 per cent of Ontario's family physicians--have or are in the process of setting up electronic medical record systems to help them manage patients.   

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