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. Today, the Ontario legislature passed the Health Information Protection Act, 2016 that, once proclaimed, will introduce new measures to improve privacy, accountability and transparency in the health care system.
Schedule 1 of the Health Information Protection Act, 2016 will 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.
Once proclaimed, these amendments will strengthen the protection of health information privacy, and increase transparency and accountability in Ontario's health care system. They will 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 will 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
- Create an Electronic Health Record privacy framework to allow records to be shared between health care providers with strong privacy protection, as supported by the Information and Privacy Commissioner
- Permit the sharing of narcotics and monitored drug prescriptions information to health care practitioners to better protect patient safety and support more informed care decisions.