Protecting Patient Privacy
On June 10, 2015, Ontario's Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Dr. Eric Hoskins, announced the government's intent to strengthen privacy rules that protect the personal health information of individuals.
The Health Information Protection Act, 2015 would, if passed, make a number of amendments to the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004, (PHIPA) and the following Acts:
- Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991
- Drug Interchangeability and Dispensing Fee Act
- Narcotics Safety and Awareness Act, 2010.
These amendments would strengthen the protection of health information privacy, and increase transparency and accountability in Ontario's health care system. They would also create a strong foundation for the secure sharing of patients' personal health information in the Electronic Health Record--a provincewide system that allows health records to be shared between health care providers. The amendments would specifically:
- Make it mandatory to report privacy breaches, as defined in regulation, to the Information and Privacy Commissioner and to relevant regulatory colleges.
- Strengthen the process to prosecute offences under PHIPA by removing the requirement that prosecutions must be commenced within six months of when the alleged offence occurred.
- Create stronger deterrents against the unauthorized collection, use or disclosure of personal health information by doubling the maximum fines for offences under PHIPA from $50,000 to $100,000 for individuals, and from $250,000 to $500,000 for an organization.
- Re-introduce and update the Electronic Health Record privacy framework initially introduced in the Electronic Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2013 (ePHIPA) and as endorsed by the Information and Privacy Commissioner. ePHIPA reached second reading but had not passed when the legislature was dissolved on May 2, 2014.
- Allow the ministry to disclose information about a patient's narcotics and monitored drug prescriptions to their health care practitioner.