CONSENT TO RECEIVE VIRTUAL CARE AND ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS
COVID-19 is placing stress on Canada’s public health system. Our clinic offers virtual care to make sure that we can continue to care for our patients safely and effectively. This means that we will be using video and audio technologies for some patient visits rather than asking all patients to come into our clinic.
We do our best to make sure that any information you give to us during virtual care visits is private and secure, but no video or audio tools are ever completely secure. There is an increased security risk that your health information may be intercepted or disclosed to third parties when using video or audio communications tools.
To help keep your information safe and secure, it is important that you:
- Use a private computer/device (i.e., not an employer’s or third party’s computer/device), secure accounts and a secure internet connection. For example, using a personal and encrypted email account is more secure than an unencrypted email account, and your access to the internet on your home network will generally be more secure than an open guest Wi-Fi connection.
- Be somewhere private where you can have a confidential conversation
If you are concerned about using video or audio tools for virtual care, other arrangements can be made. However, please note that visiting a health care provider in person comes with a higher risk of coming into contact with COVID-19 and the possibility of spreading the virus.
Electronic communication may include email, video conference, text, website/portal forms and other methods of electronic communication.
Risks of using electronic communication
- While we (Everywoman’s Health Centre) will use reasonable means to protect the security and confidentiality of information sent and received using electronic communications, because of the risks outlined below, we cannot guarantee the security and confidentiality of electronic communications:
- Use of electronic communications to discuss sensitive information can increase the risk of such information being disclosed to third parties.
- Despite reasonable efforts to protect the privacy and security of electronic communication, it is not possible to completely secure the information
- Employers and online services may have a legal right to inspect and keep electronic communications that pass through their system.
- Electronic communications can introduce malware into a computer system, and potentially damage or disrupt the computer, networks, and security settings.
- Electronic communications are subject to disruptions beyond our control that may prevent the clinic from being able to provide services.
- Electronic communications can be forwarded, intercepted, circulated, stored, or even changed without the knowledge or permission of the clinic or the patient.
- Even after the sender and recipient have deleted copies of electronic communications, back-up copies may exist on a computer system.
- Electronic communications may be disclosed in accordance with a duty to report or a court order.
- Videoconferencing using publicly available services may be open to interception.
- There may be limitations in the services that can be provided through electronic communications, dependent on the means of electronic communications being utilized.
- Email, text messages, and instant messages can more easily be misdirected, resulting in increased risk of being received by unintended and unknown recipients.
- Email, text messages, and instant messages can be easier to falsify than handwritten or signed hard copies. It is not feasible to verify the true identity of the sender, or to ensure that only the recipient can read the message once it has been sent
Conditions of using electronic communications
- While we will endeavour to review electronic communications in a timely manner, we cannot provide a timeline as to when communications will be reviewed and responded to. Electronic communications will not and should be used for medical emergencies or other time-sensitive matters.
- Electronic communication may not be an appropriate substitute for some services that we offer.
- Electronic communications may be copied or recorded in full or in part and made part of your clinical chart. Other individuals authorized to access your clinical chart may have access to those communications.
- We may forward electronic communications to staff and those involved in the delivery and administration of your care. We will not forward electronic communications to third parties, including family members, without your prior written consent, except as authorized or required by law.
- You will inform the clinic of any changes in your email address, mobile phone number, or other account information necessary to communicate electronically.
- You will ensure that we are aware when you receive an electronic communication from us, such as by a reply message or allowing “read receipts” to be sent.
- You will take precautions to preserve the confidentiality of electronic communications, such as using screen savers and safeguarding computer passwords.
- If you no longer consent to the use of electronic communications by the clinic, then you will provide notice of the withdrawal of consent by email or other written communication.
- You may not video or record videoconference or phone health sessions.
Acknowledgement and agreement by patient
I (the patient) acknowledge that I have read and fully understand the risks, limitations, conditions of use, and instructions for receiving virtual care and the use of electronic communications as described above.
I understand and accept the risks outlined above.
I consent to the conditions and will follow the instructions outlined above, as well as any other conditions that the Everywoman’s Health Centre may impose regarding virtual care and electronic communications with patients.
I acknowledge and agree to participate in virtual care and communicate with Everywoman’s Health Centre and its staff using these electronic communications with a full understanding of the risks in doing so.