Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Ministry unveils eHealth privacy measures

VANCOUVER - British Columbians wanting to limit the amount of access health care providers have to their electronic health records can now apply for a disclosure directive from the Ministry of Health Services.

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.

A patient-provided keyword will enable temporary access 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.

The disclosure directive is a key part of the ministry’s response to privacy concerns related to electronic health records.

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.

But privacy rights advocates have expressed serious concern that the disclosure directives and roles-based access cannot ensure the protection of sensitive health information.

A coalition called BC’s Big Opt Out continues to demand that every British Columbian be given the choice to participate in eHealth by giving or withholding their informed consent. It is also insisting on a “substantial and widespread information campaign” to inform patients of their rights regarding eHealth.

The group cautions that privacy measures can easily be revoked and the system remains susceptible to security breaches.

Their concerns were bolstered earlier this month when the Alberta government announced that the private information from over 11,000 electronic health records may have been stolen by hackers.

Garrett Zehr reports for The Tyee.

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus