The Guelph Family Health Team’s mission is to champion the development and delivery of high quality collaborative health care that informs and assists our patients to make decisions that maximize their wellness potential. As part of our mission, we are committed to promoting privacy and protecting the confidentiality of the health information we hold about you.
Our doctors belong to a Family Health Organization and they are each health information custodians under the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (PHIPA). For the purposes of privacy obligations, the Guelph Family Health Team and our staff are agents of the doctors and the Family Health Organization. This means we all follow the same rules and work together to protect your privacy.
YOUR HEALTH RECORD: Your health record includes information relevant to your health including your date of birth, contact information, health history, family health history, record of your visits, the care and support you received during those visits, results from tests and procedures, and information from other health care providers. Your record at our clinic is our property, but the information in your file belongs to you.
You have the right to access your health record in a timely manner. If you request a copy of your record, one will be provided to you at a reasonable cost. If you wish to view the original record, one of our staff must be present, and a reasonable fee may be charged for this access. If you need a copy of your health record, please contact our privacy officer in writing or ask your physician or care provider who will explain the process. In extremely rare situations you may be denied access to some or all of your record.
We make every effort to ensure that all of your information is recorded accurately. Please let us know if there is something that is incorrect. You have a right to ask for a correction to your record if you disagree with what is recorded.
OUR PRACTICES: We collect, use and disclose your health information to:
- Treat and care for you
- Deliver our programs
- Plan, administer and manage our internal operations
- Provide appointment reminders to you
- Conduct risk management, error management and quality improvement activities
- Educate our staff and students
- Dispose of your information
- Seek your consent (or consent of a substitute decision maker) where appropriate
- Respond to or initiate proceedings
- Be paid or process, monitor, verify or reimburse claims for payment
Our collection, use and disclosure (sharing) of your health information are done in accordance with Ontario law.
YOUR CHOICES: You have a right to make choices and control how your health information at Guelph Family Health Team is collected, used, and disclosed, subject to a few exceptions. For most health care purposes, your consent to use your health information is implied as a result of your consent to treatment, unless you tell us otherwise. We may also collect, use and share your health information in order to communicate or consult with other health care providers about your care unless you tell us you do not want us to do so.
You have the right to ask that we not share some or all of your health record with Guelph Family Health Team staff members or ask us not to share your health record with your external health care providers (such as a specialist). This is known as asking for a “lockbox”. If you would like to know more, ask anyone for a copy of our “Patient Lockbox Information Brochure: How to Restrict Access to your Health Record”.
There are other circumstances where we are not allowed to assume we have your consent to share information. For example, we must have your permission to give your health information to people who do not provide you with health care, like your insurance company or your employer. We may also need consent to communicate with any family members or friends with whom you would like us to give more detailed information about your health.
If we ask for your consent, you may choose to say no. If you say yes, you may change your mind at any time. Once you say no – we will no longer share your information unless you say so. Your choice to say no may be subject to some restrictions and reasonable notice.
However, there are cases where we may collect, use or disclose (meaning share) your health information without your consent as permitted or required by law. For example, we do not require your consent for using or disclosing your information for billing, risk management or quality improvement purposes or to fulfill our mandatory reporting obligations.
The Guelph Family Health team communicates with patients in several different ways including via email. Email communication has many advantages including that it allows for timely communication of important information.
The Guelph Family Health Team may choose to use email communication for the purpose of sending out appointment reminders, letters, handouts, updates on programs and services, health promotion and other generic notifications. We may share your email information with other health care providers who are providing you with health care. We may also use your email to keep you informed of your referral status when you have been referred to another health care provider. Please note that we have set up safeguards to protect your personal health information from theft, loss, unauthorized access, copying, modification, use, disclosure and disposal.
While email communication has many advantages, it also comes with a few risks that we want to be sure you are aware of. Please review the following information carefully – we would like to be sure that you understand and accept these risks before agreeing to communicate with your provider via email:
- Email communication is not considered to be private or secure
- Employers and online services may have a legal right to inspect and keep emails that pass through their system
- Emails are easier to falsify than handwritten or signed hard copies. In addition, it is impossible to verify the true identity of the sender, or to ensure that only the recipient can read the email once it has been sent.
- Emails can introduce viruses into a computer system, and potentially damage or disrupt the computer
- Emails can be forwarded, intercepted, circulated, stored or even changed without the knowledge or permission of the physician or the patient
- An email sender could misaddress an email, resulting in it being sent to an unintended and unknown recipient
- Emails are permanent. Even after the sender and recipient have deleted their copies of the email, back-up copies may exist on a computer or in cyberspace.
- Emails can be used as evidence in court
To mitigate some of these risks, both parties will assume the following responsibilities:
GUELPH FAMILY HEALTH TEAM RESPONSIBILITIES
All patient emails are stored on a securely password-protected. Communication between all electronic devices, used at the clinic, and the clinic’s server are encrypted using “Secure Socket Layer” (SSL) protocols. Firewalls are also used on our systems to prevent unauthorized access to our networks and to stop Spam, viruses, and other unwanted content before they reach our infrastructure and users.
As the patient, you must ensure that you are providing us with your email address that is private, and not accessed by anyone other than yourself. You should ensure that your email is protected with encryption software, otherwise understand that by not using an encrypted email may increase the risk of your privacy being violated. Should you change your email address, please update the clinic as soon as possible.
212-55 Wyndham Street North
Guelph, Ontario N1H 7T8
If, after contacting us, you feel that your concerns have not been addressed to your satisfaction, you have the right to complain to the Information and Privacy Commissioner/Ontario. The Commissioner can be reached at:
Information and Privacy Commissioner/ Ontario
2 Bloor Street East, Suite 1400
Toronto, Ontario M4W 1A8