The AMA and the Health Information Act

Addressing privacy and confidentiality within the Health Information Act

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. Increasingly though, available technology and patient expectations are requiring a balance of the safeguarding of patient information with the sharing of it (with the patient and with the patient’s other caregivers). Alberta’s physicians realize that the provision of coordinated care depends upon partnering with, and empowering, patients.

The AMA actively participates in and supports the development of the technologies and platforms necessary to encourage greater involvement of patients in their own healthcare, while adhering to the highest standards of patient privacy and respect of doctor-patient confidentiality.

According to an October 2017 AMA member survey, 95.4% of survey respondents believe that patient-physician confidentiality and safeguarding of private information remains a requirement for effective patient care.

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