Privacy and virtual health care

With the onset of COVID-19, and the requirement to adhere to social distancing guidelines, virtual health care has become a convenient alternative for custodians to connect with, and care for, their patients. Virtual health care includes digital communications such as secure messaging, telephone consultation, and videoconferencing.

Ontario’s health privacy law, the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA), applies to virtual care as it does to in-person care. Health care providers must comply with the provisions of PHIPA, all other applicable laws and regulations, and any guidance issued by relevant professional regulators.

The IPC has guidance for professionals in the health care sector, Privacy and Security Considerations for Virtual Health Care Visits. The guide outlines some of the key requirements in PHIPA relevant to all health care providers, including those who operate in a virtual health care context. It also provides practical steps they should take to protect personal health information, particularly as they plan and deliver virtual health care.



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