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Electronic Health Records: Controlling Personal Health Data in the Context of Medical Records Information

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The electronic health record (EHR), initiated by Health Canada’s Infoway, is part of an international move toward computerization of health records. The EHR is a tool that will allow health care professionals, including doctors, pharmacists, nurses and any other skilled professionals, to access patients’ clinical records, regardless of the location where the consultation took place, to optimize patient management and ensure improved follow‑up. The creation of electronic health records aims to facilitate the circulation and sharing of clinical information, particularly among health network facilities.

However, as for all new technologies of this kind, EHRs raise a number of concerns in the context of a growing dematerialization of information, and in a world where the use of personal health information is increasingly widespread and privacy protection, increasingly complex. Although there are definite advantages and benefits for health service users, it is important to ensure that EHRs are used in a way that respects the integrity of personal information and ensures that patients have control and access to their records.

The research presents an overview of EHR projects in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec and assesses the legal framework concerning privacy, including those related to health. The most relevant legal frameworks from France and the United States were also analyzed to make sure that Canada adopts only the best foreign practices concerning electronic health records.

This document is available in the following language(s):

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OPC Funded Project

This project received funding support through the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s Contributions Program. The opinions expressed in the summary and report(s) are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Summaries have been provided by the project authors. Please note that the projects appear in their language of origin.

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