In accordance with Alberta’s Health Information Act, the Bighorn PCN has an accepted Privacy Impact Assessment and associated privacy policies that incorporate electronic communication with patients. It is part of our policy to ensure that patients are informed of and acknowledge the risks associated with electronic communication and consent to specified conditions respecting the use of electronic communication.
The Bighorn PCN offers patients the opportunity to communicate electronically by using the following means (“the Services”): email, text, and/or instant messaging, videoconferencing, and website/online portal.
The Bighorn PCN will use reasonable means to protect the security and confidentiality of information sent and received using electronic communication methods. However, because of the risks outlined below, the Bighorn PCN 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.
- 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 can be forwarded, intercepted, circulated, stored, or even changed without the knowledge or permission of the Bighorn PCN 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 services may be more open to interception than other Services.
If email, text, or instant message is used as an electronic communication tool, the following are additional risks:
- 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.
While the Bighorn PCN will attempt to review and respond in a timely fashion to electronic communication it receives, the Bighorn PCN cannot guarantee that all electronic communications will be reviewed and responded to within any specific period of time. The Services will not be used for medical emergencies or other time-sensitive matters.
If your electronic communication requires or invites a response from the Bighorn PCN and you have not received a response within a reasonable time period, it is your responsibility to follow up to determine whether the intended recipient received the electronic communication and when the recipient will respond.
Electronic communication is not an appropriate substitute for in-person or over-the-telephone communication or clinical examinations, where appropriate, or for attending the Emergency Department when needed. You are responsible for following up on the Bighorn PCN’s electronic communication and for scheduling appointments where warranted.
The Bighorn PCN reserves the right, at any time, to withdraw the option of using electronic communication services.
If costs result from your use of the Services (due to the terms of your internet and/or cellular service plan), the costs are your responsibility.
Your acceptance of the Bighorn PCN privacy policies serves as your acknowledgement that you:
- have read, understand, and accept the risks described on this page; and,
- consent to the conditions outlined on this page.