Health Policy

Vancouver: Ministry uncovers eHealth privacy measures

Now for disclosure directives from the Ministry of Health Services can be applied for, by the British Columbians wanting to limit the amount of access that the health care providers have to their respective electronic health records. The privacy measure comes in advance of the first of B.C.’s eHealth projects, a health information bank recording lab results, which is to be enacted over the next few months. Since Friday, patients have been able to request a form from the ministry that when completed will allow them to block health care providers from accessing their lab results. Temporary access would be enabled through s patient-provided keyword, by medical professionals if the patient wants the information made available in certain situations. Health care providers are also able to override the disclosure directive in emergencies.

A similar application process for other directives will be required for each new eHealth information bank that is unveiled over the next few years, including banks for diagnostic imaging and prescription histories. In the ministry’s response to privacy concerns related to electronic health records, the disclosure directive is a key part. In addition, the eHealth system will also use role-based access, which means that health care providers are only allowed to access information for patients under their care and will only have access to the minimum amount of information they require. However, there have been expressed serious concern that the disclosure directives and roles-based access cannot ensure the protection of sensitive health information, by the privacy rights advocates. The group cautions that privacy measures can easily be revoked and the system remains susceptible to security breaches.

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