Health information is among the most sensitive forms of personal information, and protecting it is foundational to the doctor-patient relationship. Physicians now have increasingly more convenient ways to consult with colleagues, patients, and other health care providers through the use of smart phones, tablets, email, websites, and video conferencing, but this has resulted in changes to how that personal health information is collected, used, and disclosed. And this greater reliance on technology to communicate patient care with others brings with it increased security risks and greater challenges for physicians to maintain confidentiality of their patients’ personal health information. Lost or stolen laptops, intercepted electronic communications, and unencrypted memory sticks are just a few of the many ways privacy breaches can occur.
Physicians’ obligations under PIPA
To assist physicians in meeting their obligations under the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA), Doctors of BC, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for BC, and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC have partnered to update the BC Physician Privacy Toolkit: A Guide for Physicians in Private Practice, originally published in 2004 and updated in 2009 and again in 2017.
Along with the updated BC Physician Privacy Toolkit, comprehensive resources for physicians are available on the Doctors of BC website to make complying with PIPA straightforward. The additional resources include:
• A PIPA fact sheet
• A module for each privacy principle and guideline
• Tips and checklists
• Searchable FAQs
If you have additional questions about your obligations under PIPA, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Heather Hannah, CAPP, CBCP, CIA, CRMA, CPA, CGA
Risk and Compliance Officer, Privacy Officer, Doctors of BC
This posting has not been peer reviewed by the BCMJ Editorial Board.