The Alberta Medical Association (AMA) and the Health Information Act (HIA)

Dr. G.N. Kiefer

Addressing privacy and confidentiality within the HIA

Since it was first passed in 2001, the HIA has governed the collection, use, disclosure and overall management of health information in Alberta.

Physicians are subject to the act in different roles:

  • Custodians: In private practice as independent owners/guardians of patient records.
  • Affiliates: Within Alberta Health Services (AHS) facilities, contributing to hospital records that are owned/operated by AHS.
  • Joint-custodians: When working in AHS ambulatory-care settings using complete, shared electronic medical records (EMRs) for which the physician and AHS share control and responsibility.

Under legislation or professional standards, physicians are dedicated to safeguarding the confidentiality of patient information. It is the currency of the doctor-patient relationship. Patients who are afraid that what they tell their physicians will not remain private, will not provide the information needed to diagnose and care for them.

The AMA has actively participated in many venues to advocate for the highest standards of patient privacy and the importance of doctor-patient confidentiality.  

According to a December 2011 AMA member survey, 86% of physicians agreed/strongly agreed that their traditional role as managers and gatekeepers of the patient's record must be maintained in the design of electronic health and medical records.

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The Alberta Medical Association stands as an advocate for its physician members, providing leadership & support for their role in the provision of quality health care.