B.C. introduces law governing access, privacy of electronic health records

The Canadian Press reports:

British Columbians will soon be able to use their computers to view their health records, Health Minister George Abbott said Thursday after introducing legislation governing access and privacy for electronic health information databases.

British Columbia became the first province in Canada to create a legislative framework with specific provisions to address access and protection of electronic health information.

The e-Health Personal Health and Information Access and Protection of Privacy Act could eventually create paperless medical offices, allowing physicians to store information about patients on their computers as opposed to the banks of individual file folders in most offices, Abbott said.

“I’m pretty confident we got it right here,” he said. “I’m very pleased with the balance with the legitimate access to personal information that a physician may require and the protection of the sanctity of those records that is so important to the patient.”

The e-Health law gives medical researchers access to the electronic health database but ensures privacy, Abbott said.

Individuals can block access to the their own information in health data banks, except in cases where the person is incapacitated in an emergency or with the individual’s consent.

Abbott said the new law prohibits disclosing information from electronic health databases for market research. The government will create a committee that evaluates requests for data for health research or planning purposes.

Maximum fines for violating the act have been will be $200,000.

The Opposition New Democrats said they want patient privacy ensured. They also said the act suffers from credibility issues.

Full story – The Canadian Press 

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