Protecting Privacy while Providing Virtual Healthcare

Protecting Privacy while Providing Virtual Healthcare

The adoption of virtual healthcare provision has been quickly accelerated by social and physical distancing measures. Clinicians are rightly concerned about how to provide appropriate care while protecting the privacy of patients. Here are some tips for ensuring that patient privacy is protected while providing healthcare:

When choosing a platform:

· Ensure that the contracts you enter into with the virtual care platform cover the requirements of electronic services providers or information managers, depending on your jurisdiction

· Make sure that the virtual care platform does not store any personal health information

· Verify that the encryption standards meet those of your healthcare institution – at a minimum, these should be industry standard

· Check with your association to whether they have recommended certain platforms

Before the session:

· Each session should have a unique password and link

· Patients/clients should be authenticated and identifies verified prior to providing care to ensure you are speaking with the appropriate patient

· Provide an explanation to patients/clients about virtual care, outlining the privacy and security risks balanced with the benefits of receiving care in this manner

· Get consent from the patient/client for using this mode of communication

· Close all windows on your device, including email and text messages that may pop up during the session

· Be prepared to document clinically relevant information in the patient/client’s medical record as you normally would

During the session:

· Confirm with the patient/client an understanding of the risks/benefits of using virtual care

· Do not record the session

· Only the clinician and the patient/client should be present during the call

· Make sure the call is done in a private space in your home or office where others cannot overhear or interrupt

· Do not use a public internet connection (such as Wifi in an airport or coffee shop)

After the session:

· Follow procedures that you would normally follow after an in-person session

· Log out of the video conferencing platform and close the window in which it was operating

OMA Link to virtual care guidance:

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