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CMA PolicyBase

Policies that advocate for the medical profession and Canadians


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Information program for Canadians on genetically modified organisms

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy379
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
1999-08-25
Topics
Health information and e-health
Resolution
GC99-81
That the Canadian Medical Association urge the federal government to create an information program for Canadians on genetically modified organisms.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
1999-08-25
Topics
Health information and e-health
Resolution
GC99-81
That the Canadian Medical Association urge the federal government to create an information program for Canadians on genetically modified organisms.
Text
That the Canadian Medical Association urge the federal government to create an information program for Canadians on genetically modified organisms.
Less detail

Addressing professional issues of Canadian physicians and medical practice

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy465
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
1999-08-25
Topics
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Resolution
GC99-60
That the Canadian Medical Association be the national focus for enhancing organized medicine's effectiveness in addressing the variety of professional issues facing Canadian physicians and medical practice.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
1999-08-25
Topics
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Resolution
GC99-60
That the Canadian Medical Association be the national focus for enhancing organized medicine's effectiveness in addressing the variety of professional issues facing Canadian physicians and medical practice.
Text
That the Canadian Medical Association be the national focus for enhancing organized medicine's effectiveness in addressing the variety of professional issues facing Canadian physicians and medical practice.
Less detail

Standing Committee on Health’s study on violence faced by healthcare workers

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy14052
Date
2019-05-14
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Ethics and medical professionalism
Health human resources
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Date
2019-05-14
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Ethics and medical professionalism
Health human resources
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Text
Re: Standing Committee on Health’s study on violence faced by healthcare workers Dear Mr. Casey: I am writing on behalf of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) to submit recommendations for consideration by the Standing Committee on Health (the Committee) as part of the study on violence faced by healthcare workers. The CMA is deeply concerned with the state of workplace safety in all health care settings, including hospitals, long-term care, and home care settings. As in all experiences of violence, it is unacceptable for healthcare workers to be victims of violence in the provision of care to patients. While there is limited data nationally to understand the incidence of violence against healthcare workers, anecdotal evidence suggests that these experiences are increasing in frequency and severity. A 2010 survey of members of the College of Family Physicians of Canada shockingly found that, in the previous month, nearly one-third of respondents had been exposed to some form of aggressive behaviour from a patient (90%) or patient’s family (70%). The study concluded that “Canadian family physicians in active practice are subjected to regular abuse from their patients or family members of their patients.”1 These concerns were brought to the CMA’s General Council in 2015, where our members passed a resolution calling for: “the federal government to amend the Criminal Code by making it a specific criminal offence to assault health care providers performing their duties.” The CMA is prioritizing initiatives that support physician health and wellness. Increasingly, there is a recognition of the role of the workplace, primarily health care settings, and safe working conditions as having an important influence of physician health and wellness. …/2 1 Miedema BB, Hamilton R, Tatemichi S et al. Monthly incidence rates of abusive encounters for Canadian family physicians by patients and their families. Int J Family Med. 2010; 2010: 387202. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3275928/pdf/IJFM2010-387202.pdf (accessed 2019 May 9). Mr. Bill Casey Addressing violence against providers in healthcare settings will require action from both federal and provincial/territorial governments. In light of the above, the CMA respectfully submits the following recommendations for consideration by the Committee in its study on violence against healthcare workers: 1) The CMA recommends that the Committee on Health support the call to amend the Criminal Code of Canada to introduce a new criminal offence for assault against a healthcare provider performing their duty. 2) The CMA recommends that the Committee on Health support establishing monitoring of violence against healthcare workers, that is consistent across jurisdictions, and have an active role in responding appropriately to trends. 3) The CMA recommends that the Committee on Health support federal leadership in a pan- Canadian approach to support workplace safety in healthcare settings, including collaborating with the provinces and territories to improve violence prevention. Finally, the CMA welcomes and supports the petition recently tabled in the House of Commons by Dr. Doug Eyolfson, calling for the Minister of Health “to develop a pan-Canadian prevention strategy to address growing incidents of violence against health care workers.” In closing, the CMA is encouraged that the Committee is undertaking this study. I look forward to the Committee’s report on this topic and the opportunity to collaborate on federal and provincial/territorial action in this matter. Sincerely, F. Gigi Osler, BScMed, MD, FRCSC President c.c.: Marilyn Gladu, M.P., Vice Chair, Standing Committee on Health Don Davies, M.P., Vice Chair Standing Committee on Health
Documents
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Putting Patients First : Comments on Bill C 6 (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) : Submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy1979
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
1999-11-25
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Health care and patient safety
Health information and e-health
  2 documents  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
1999-11-25
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Health care and patient safety
Health information and e-health
Text
CMA commends the federal government for taking this important first step that begins the debate on privacy and the protection of personal information. The issues are complex and the interests at stake significant. CMA welcomes the opportunity to provide comments on Bill C-6 and hopes that its input will strengthen the Bill by ensuring that patient privacy and the confidentiality of medical records are adequately protected. CMA’s chief concern with Bill C-6 is the inadequacy of its provisions to protect the right of privacy of patients and the confidentiality of their health information. The right of privacy encompasses both the right to keep information about ourselves to ourselves if we so choose and to exercise control over what subsequently happens to information we confide in trust for the purpose of receiving health care. In recent years, this right, and the ability of physicians to guarantee meaningful confidentiality, have becoming increasingly threatened. Computerization of health information facilitates easy transfer, duplication, linkage and centralization of health information. Captured in electronic form, patient information is potentially more useful for the purpose of providing care. However, thus captured, it also becomes much more valuable and technically accessible to various third parties -- private and public, governmental and commercial -- wishing to use this information for other purposes unrelated to providing direct care. An additional concern is that the demand for health information, referred to by some commentators as ‘data lust’, is growing, partly as a consequence of ‘information hungry’ policy trends such as population health. There is also a disturbing tendency toward ‘function creep’, whereby information collected for one purpose is used for another, often without consent or even knowledge of the individual concerned and without public knowledge or scrutiny. Furthermore, initiatives concerning health information technology tend to be dominated by those who seek access to this information for secondary purposes. From this perspective, privacy may appear less as a fundamental right than as a hindrance or even roadblock. As we move further into the information age there is some danger that we will become so spell-bound by the promise of information centralization and database linkages that we lose sight of the patients who confided this information or reduce them to impersonal ‘data subjects’. To avoid this danger and the allure of the technology we need to ground the application of information technology and practices in well-tested, enduring principles. We need to put privacy first rather than treat it as a nuisance or impediment. Rules and regulatory regimes concerning health information should be based on the principle of patient privacy because ultimately health information technology is not about ‘bits and bytes’ or ‘data’ or even ‘data subjects’ but about patients, and patients deserve to be treated with respect and dignity and to have their wishes and choices valued and respected. If we are to put patients first the right of privacy must be given primacy in rules concerning health information. This does not mean that this right is absolute. What it does mean is that the burden of proof must rest with those whose purposes, however compelling they may be, encroach upon the right of privacy. It means that we value patient privacy at least enough to demand explicit justification of any proposal that would diminish privacy. Bill C-6 begins with the right premise: that “rules to govern information collection, use and disclosure” should recognize the “right of privacy”. However, it fails to recognize the special nature of health information and to tailor its provisions accordingly. In consequence there is confusion and uncertainty about Bill C-6's application to health care. Even more seriously, however, Bill C-6 fails to recognize that health information requires stronger or greater privacy protection than other types of information. The inadequacy of Bill C-6 for health care is not surprising because clearly it was not drafted with health information in mind. Rather, it is written from the perspective of encouraging commerce. It appears to have access to information as its dominant value. The world of health care is very different from that of commerce and consequently requires distinct rules that are more protective of privacy. Confiding information to your physician under the trust of the patient-physician relationship is not on par with giving your address to a salesclerk when you purchase a toaster or rent a movie. Health information is special by nature. Canadians know this. In a recent Angus Reid poll commissioned by CMA Canadians told us loudly and clearly that they regard their health information as especially sensitive. However, the obvious sensitivity of health information is not the only thing that makes it special and in virtue of which it warrants distinct rules to strengthen privacy protection. It is important to recognize that this information is typically collected under the trust patients vest in their physicians. Patients confide their information for the purpose of receiving care and in the expectation that it will be held in the strictest confidence. This purpose, and the preservation of this trust, should be given primacy in rules concerning health information. It is also important to recognize that the trust under which patients confide in their physicians is fundamental to the patient-physician relationship. If patients can not trust their physicians to protect their information and keep it secret they will not confide it as freely as they do. In consequence, the ability of physicians to provide the care needed would be severely diminished. Rules relating to health information must be developed in recognition of its special nature and the circumstances of trust and vulnerability in which it is initially collected or confided. Patients confide in their physicians for the purpose of receiving care. The potential that the information thus confided may subsequently be used for other purposes must not impede the therapeutic purpose or diminish the trust and integrity of the patient-physician relationship. In recent years the secondary use of information for purposes other than those for which it was collected has been increasing without adequate oversight or public knowledge. This ‘function creep’ undermines the trust of patient-physician relationship. Collection and use beyond the therapeutic context and for purposes unrelated to the provision of direct care should be subjected to rigorous scrutiny before they are permitted to occur. To the extent that they are permitted to occur without patient consent they should be explicitly authorized in legislation to ensure transparency and adequate oversight. Putting patients first means ensuring that health information, in all but exceptional and justifiable circumstances, is used only under the strict control of the patient. The patient must be able to exercise control through voluntary, informed consent. Moreover, a distinction must be made between a patient’s right to know what can or must happen to health information and the right to consent to such use. Bill C-6 permits the collection, use and disclosure of information without knowledge or consent on grounds such as expediency, practicality, public good, research, offence investigation, historic importance and artistic purpose. The laxness and breadth of these exemptions as applied to health information is unacceptable. These uses, without the patient’s consent (or even knowledge), reduce the patient to a means to someone else’s end, however worthwhile that end may be. Moreover, the absence of consent (or even knowledge) undermines the integrity of the patient-physician relationship and has the potential to erode the trust patients have in their physicians - a trust that is essential to patients’ willingness to provide the complete information needed to provide them with care. CMA has developed and adopted a Health Information Privacy Code (Appendix A) in recognition of the special nature of health information and to give primacy to patients and to the right of privacy. This Code begins from the same starting point as Bill C-6, the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Code which the Bill includes as Schedule 1. However, unlike Bill C-6, the CMA Code tailors the CSA Code to the specific circumstances of health information. The CMA Health Information Privacy Code, therefore, is able to address issues specific to health information that Bill C-6 either fails to address or, even worse, exacerbates. In light of the clear deficits in Bill C-6 and the inadequate protection of patient privacy and health information confidentiality, CMA urges this committee to accept the recommendations put forward in this brief to strengthen the Bill’s provisions for protecting privacy and to accept the amendment (Appendix B) CMA has prepared to give effect to these recommendations. CMA believes that Canadians desire and deserve no less than this as concerns the right of privacy with respect to health information. I. Introduction The Canadian Medical Association is the national voice of Canadian physicians. Our mission is to provide leadership for physicians and to promote the highest standard of health and health care for Canadians. The CMA is a voluntary professional organization representing the majority of Canada's physicians and comprising 12 provincial and territorial divisions and 43 affiliated medical organizations. On behalf of its 46,000 members and the Canadian public, CMA performs a wide variety of functions, including addressing the emerging issue of electronic health information and confidentiality and privacy. It is in this capacity that we present our position on Bill C 6, The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. CMA commends the federal government for taking this important first step of beginning the debate on privacy and the protection of personal information. The issues are complex and the interests at stake significant. CMA welcomes the opportunity to provide comments on Bill C-6 and hopes that its input will strengthen the Bill by ensuring that patient privacy and the confidentiality of medical records are adequately protected. In preparing this brief CMA has had the benefit of the final report of the federal Advisory Council on Health Infostructure, Canada Health Infoway: Paths to Better Health: Final Report. (“Advisory Council Report”) Where appropriate, CMA cites the findings contained in the Report. CMA wishes to underscore the key themes of its brief: A. Health information is special by its nature. Rules relating to health information must be developed in recognition of its special nature. Ensuring protection of privacy and confidentiality of the patient record must take precedence over other considerations. Bill C-6 fails to do this. Bill C-6 is written from the perspective of encouraging commerce. It appears to have access to information as its dominant value. The world of health care is very different from that of commerce and consequently requires distinct rules. B. Typically, health information is confided in the context of the therapeutic relationship and under the trust upon which this relationship is built. Rules concerning health information -- and in particular its collection, disclosure and use for purposes unrelated to the provision of direct care -- must be consistent with the expectations of patients about confidentiality and must not exploit the trust patients have in their physicians or compromise the ability of physicians to earn and maintain this trust. C. Health information must, in all but exceptional and justifiable circumstances, be used only under the strict control of the patient. The patient must be able to exercise control through voluntary, informed consent. Moreover, a distinction must be made between a patient’s right to know what can or must happen to health information and the right to consent to such use. Bill C-6 permits the collection, use and disclosure of information without knowledge or consent on grounds such as expediency, practicality, public good, research, offence investigation, historic importance and artistic purpose. The laxness and breadth of these exemptions as applied to health information is unacceptable. These uses, without the patient’s consent (or even knowledge), reduce the patient to a means to someone else’s end, however worthwhile that end may be. Moreover, the absence of consent (or even knowledge) undermines the integrity of the patient-physician relationship and has the potential to erode the trust patients have in their physicians - a trust that is essential to patients’ willingness to provide the complete information needed to provide them with care. D. The root of most of the problems in applying Bill C-6 to health care information is its failure to distinguish among purposes for the collection, use and disclosure of health information. In particular, the Bill fails to distinguish between the primary purpose, which is to deliver care to and for the benefit of an individual patient, and secondary purposes, which are not for the direct benefit of the patient (and indeed may even use the patient’s information to his or her detriment). Provisions to protect privacy should give recognition to the difference between these purposes and should not hinder the ability of physicians and others to provide care consistent with the patient’s wishes. Moreover, the Bill has no effective mechanism to distinguish legitimate purposes, which should be permitted, from illegitimate purposes, which should not, notwithstanding the limitation to “purposes that a reasonable person would consider are appropriate in the circumstances” in Section 5(3). E. In recent years the secondary use of information for purposes other than the purpose for which it was collected has been increasing without adequate oversight or public knowledge. This ‘function creep’ undermines the trust of patient-physician relationship. Collection and use beyond the therapeutic context and for purposes unrelated to the provision of direct care should be subjected to rigorous scrutiny before they are permitted to occur. To the extent that they are permitted to occur without patient consent they should be explicitly authorized in legislation to ensure transparency and adequate oversight. This Brief will first look at the apparent rationale of Bill C-6 and its potential application to health information. The brief will then describe why CMA considers health information to be special in nature and worthy of special protection. Finally, the brief reviews the difference in approach between Bill C-6 and CMA’s Health Information Privacy Code to illustrate that Bill C-6 provides inadequate protection to patient privacy and medical confidentiality. II. Rationale and Scope of Bill C-6 A. Rationale of Bill C-6 The driving force behind Bill C-6 is the support and promotion of electronic commerce. The second part of the Bill is devoted to permitting electronic versions of documents and signatures to be legitimate or ‘originals’ if the provisions of the Act are followed. Part 2 of the Bill is quite distinct from Part 2 and both parts could stand alone as separate pieces of legislation. Part 2 simply allows electronic versions of documents and signatures to be recognized as legitimate. On its face, this has little to do with the protection of personal information except to the extent that storage of documents in electronic form provides greater ability to access, link and merge information. Certainly, the Bill appears to draw on this connection by including, in its statement of purpose, the provision of a right of privacy in an era in which technology increasingly facilitates the collection and free flow of information. Part 1 concerns all forms of personal information, electronic and otherwise. It gives some protection to personal information by requiring consent in some instances. In CMA’s view, a fundamental difficulty with Part 1 and with the Bill in general is that its goal is to promote commerce and thus all information is implicitly considered as falling within the ‘commercial’ realm. In the case of health information this is surely not the case or the only consideration. Moreover, this creates a clash of values when applied to a health care system that is a public system. The Advisory Council Report takes a firm stand on this issue and states that legislation respecting the privacy protection of health information, “should also contain a clear prohibition against all secondary commercial use of personal health information.”Moreover, Bill C-6 fails to distinguish and priorize different purposes for collecting, using and disclosing information and in doing so treats all purposes as more or less equal and subject to the same rules. CMA takes a quite a different view when it comes to health information and will expound its view throughout this brief. B. Scope - Application to Health Records CMA has argued from the outset that C 6 (and its predecessor C 54) will apply to some health information. This view now appears to be widely accepted. Nevertheless, it is unclear as to what extent Bill C 6 will apply to health records. The full name of the Act states, in part: An Act to support and promote electronic commerce by protecting personal information that is collected, used or disclosed in certain circumstances . . . . What are these circumstances? Section 4(1) states that Part 1 (the part protecting personal information) applies in respect of personal information that: (a) the organization collects, uses or discloses in the course of commercial activities; or (b) is about an employee of the organization and that the organization collects, uses or discloses in connection with the operation of a federal work, undertaking or business. The definition of commercial activity given in 2(1) that commercial activity Ameans any particular transaction, act or conduct or any regular course of conduct that is of a commercial character@ is circular and does nothing to clarify uncertainties concerning the Bill’s scope. There are two points to be made here as concerns the application of this Bill to health information. The first concerns clarity around where commercial ends and health care begins. Which health care settings that operate for profit are excluded from the Act? This question speaks to the difficulty of delineating what activity is considered health care and what activity is considered commercial. Moreover the increase in public/private partnerships and joint funding of endeavours within the health care sector, which the government appears to be promoting, may make it increasingly difficult to make this distinction; for example in the area of research. The second concerns the specification of different regimes for information protection and privacy rights, depending on whether the information is deemed to come under commercial activity. This is clearly not desirable. However, the solution to this problem is not to reduce the privacy rules for all health information to the lowest common denominator but to raise them to a higher level of protection than is afforded commercially acquired information. Subjecting all health information to the regime laid out in the CMA Health Information Privacy Code would achieve this objective. In preparing this brief CMA has assumed that the Bill will provide a scheme that applies to at least some health information. Three years after it is in force it will apply equally to activities that occur strictly within the provinces, unless there is legislation in the province that is substantially similar to the Bill (see sections 27(2)(b) and 30). No doubt the extent of the federal government’s ability to legislate in this area generally will be the subject of extensive debate. However, CMA has no comment on this debate and provides its opinion in the interests of ensuring that the rules that relate to health information are compatible with preserving the integrity of the patient physician relationship and the protection of patient privacy and health information confidentiality. The federal government has an opportunity to provide Canadians with strong privacy rights in health information. It is incumbent upon the government to do so. C. Scope - Government Excluded Bill C-6 expressly excludes a large part of government activity from its ambit. Although government activity is to some extent governed by the Privacy Act, R.S.C. 1985, P-21, the rules of this Act provide less protection than those of Bill C-6. Government should subject itself to at least the same rules that it requires of the private sector in so far as it is a collector and user of information. Indeed, government’s practices relating to the collection, storage, merging, transfer and use of health information should be subject to more stringent rules than those found in either the Privacy Act or Bill C-6. The Advisory Council Report also calls for the same rules to apply to the public and private sectors, rules that are more stringent than those found in the Privacy Act or Bill C-6. Therefore, CMA recommends: That, at least in connection with health information, the provisions of the Bill apply equally to the public and the private sectors. III. Considerations Regarding Patient Privacy and Confidentiality: Medical Context Versus Commercial Context A. CMA’s Position The world of health care is very different from that of commerce and consequently requires distinct rules that are more protective of privacy. Confiding information to your physician under the trust of the patient-physician relationship is not on par with giving your address to a salesclerk when you purchase a toaster or rent a movie. Health information is special by nature. Canadians know this. In a recent Angus Reid poll commissioned by CMA Canadians told us loudly and clearly that they regard their health information as especially sensitive. However, the obvious sensitivity of health information is not the only thing that makes it special and in virtue of which it warrants distinct rules to strengthen privacy protection. It is important to recognize that this information is typically collected under the trust patients vest in their physicians. Patients confide their information for the purpose of receiving care and in the expectation that it will be held in the strictest confidence. This purpose, and the preservation of this trust, should be given primacy in rules concerning health information It is also important to recognize that the trust under which patients confide in their physicians is fundamental to the patient-physician relationship. If patients could not trust their physicians to protect their information and keep it secret they would not confide it as freely as they do. In consequence, the ability of physicians to provide the care needed would be severely diminished. Rules relating to health information must be developed in recognition of its special nature and the circumstances of trust and vulnerability in which it is initially collected or confided. Patients confide in their physicians for the purpose of receiving care. The potential that the information thus confided may subsequently be used for other purposes must not impede the therapeutic purpose or diminish the trust and integrity of the patient-physician relationship. In recent years the secondary use of information for purposes other than those for which it was collected has been increasing without adequate oversight or public knowledge. This ‘function creep’ undermines the trust of patient-physician relationship. Collection and use beyond the therapeutic context and for purposes unrelated to the provision of direct care should be subjected to rigorous scrutiny before they are permitted to occur. To the extent that they are permitted to occur without patient consent they should be explicitly authorized in legislation to ensure transparency and adequate oversight. Putting patients first means ensuring that health information, in all but exceptional and justifiable circumstances, is used only under the strict control of the patient. The patient must be able to exercise control through voluntary, informed consent. Moreover, a distinction must be made between a patient’s right to know what can or must happen to health information and the right to consent to such use. Bill C-6 permits the collection, use and disclosure of information without knowledge or consent on grounds such as expediency, practicality, public good, research, offence investigation, historic importance and artistic purpose. The laxness and breadth of these exemptions as applied to health information is unacceptable. These uses, without the patient’s consent (or even knowledge), reduce the patient to a means to someone else’s end, however worthwhile that end may be. Moreover, the absence of consent (or even knowledge) undermines the integrity of the patient-physician relationship and has the potential to erode the trust patients have in their physicians - a trust that is essential to patients’ willingness to provide the complete information needed to provide them with care. CMA has developed and adopted a Health Information Privacy Code (Appendix A) in recognition of the special nature of health information and to give primacy to patients and to the right of privacy. In commenting on this Code the Advisory Council Report notes: The Code represents an important contribution to the deliberations of Canadians and legislators on how to safeguard privacy across the health domain. In his 1998-99 Annual Report, the Federal Privacy Commissioner writes in support of the Health Information Privacy Code: Legislators looking for guidance on health information privacy law need not re-invent the wheel; the Canadian Medical Association’s Health Information Privacy Code is a comprehensive benchmark for achieving a high national level of protection for personal information. The Code could be the basis for drafting legislation. Given the grumblings that the Code sets the bar too high, perhaps some Health Infoway funds should be used to study the impact of its implementation. The patients at the heart of this system deserve no less. There are several key principles that guided the development of the Health Information Privacy Code and upon which it is based: 1. The provision of health care to all Canadians irrespective of social circumstances or health status is a highly regarded value in Canadian society. The system is publicly funded and universally accessible. 2. The right of privacy is fundamental to a free and democratic society. 3. Rules relating to health information must recognize its special nature. Health information has a high level of sensitivity and is confided or collected in circumstances of vulnerability and trust for the primary purpose of benefiting the patient. 4. The hallmark of the medical profession since the time of Hippocrates has been the willingness and ability to hold information confided secret. 5. The patient-physician relationship is one of trust. A central feature of this trust is the belief of patients that information confided in or collected by physicians and other health care providers will be kept secret. 6. Patients believe that the information they disclose or that is gathered as a result of their seeking health care will be used to provide them with health care. Use beyond the provision of health care without knowledge or consent goes beyond what a patient’s reasonable expectations were when information was confided or collected and therefore is a breach of the trust patients place in their physicians. 7. Except in very limited circumstances, consent is required for health information collection, use, disclosure or access for any purpose. 8. Information required to provide patients with the health care sought should be readily available to those who require it to provide an aspect of care as consistent with the wishes of the patient. 9. Uses of health information for purposes other than the provision of health care to the person seeking care should be subject to rules that: - protect and promote privacy and confidentiality; - generally require express consent; - can be justified according to specific criteria. 10. Patients should know the uses to which their health information may be put prior to disclosing it. 11. Patients may be reluctant to disclose information if they are concerned about the uses to which the information is put or the persons entitled to access it. B. Public Opinion To determine the public’s views on issues concerning privacy and health information, CMA commissioned Angus Reid to conduct research in two forms, quantitative (survey) and qualitative (focus groups), and has found the following: 1. Canadians believe that health information is the most sensitive type of information, and indeed more sensitive than their financial information. 1. 2. Canadians believe that their health information will be kept confidential and consider this to be important. 3. Canadians believe it important to know and control how their health information is shared with others. 4. Canadians do not want their health information released to third parties (including governments and researchers) without their knowledge and consent. 5. Canadians have concerns about the release of delinked or anonymous information to third parties without their consent. 6. Some Canadians are reluctant to confide information to their physicians due to concerns about it subsequently being disclosed to others without their consent. 7. Patients believe that privacy rules should apply equally to the public and the private sector. These findings are consistent with the published literature and other findings relating to the public’s concerns about privacy and confidentiality. The CMA Health Information Privacy Code was developed in consideration of these views. Once developed, its principles were subsequently tested with the public in a series of cross-country focus groups and it was found that the Code appears to enjoy considerable public support. C. The Advisory Council Report The Advisory Council Report relates to the electronic health record. However, given the direction towards the greater use of technology and the underlying principles informing the Advisory Council, its recommendations are generalizable to all health information. A key principle of the Advisory Council Report is that access by health care professionals should be based on a need-to-know basis under the strict control of the patient. The Council, like CMA, calls for scrutiny and justification of secondary uses of health information. The Council is opposed to the use of multipurpose identifiers on the grounds that it becomes too easy for government officials from one department to gain access to a person’s health record or to combine a number of records to assemble a comprehensive profile. (Anecdotal evidence suggests that this concern may be justified and that there are insufficient safeguards preventing the flow of health information among government departments.) The Council recommends that all governments ensure that they have legislation to address privacy protection specifically aimed at protecting personal health information through explicit and transparent mechanisms. Included in these mechanisms are: * The provision of a precise definition of free and informed consent, as well as a statement of principle that informed consent should be the basis for sharing personal health information; * Any exemption to the requirement of informed consent should be clearly set out in law. More specifically, legislative guidance should be provided on how to balance the right of privacy with the public good for research purposes to implement a coherent and harmonized pan-Canadian system for independent, ethical review. * There should be provisions regulating secondary uses of non-identifiable health information. These provisions should address privacy concerns surrounding the degree to which data might be linked back to an identifiable individual. * Legislation should set clear limits on access to and use of health information by third parties outside the health care system. To prevent the serious invasions of privacy that can result from the unrestricted linking of personal health information with other kinds of information on the same individual, the legislation should contain provisions prohibiting the use for any other purpose of unique personal identifiers in health information systems. D. The Approach in Bill C-6 Bill C-6 begins with the right premise: that “rules to govern information collection, use and disclosure” should recognize the “right of privacy”. However, it fails to recognize the special nature of health information and to tailor its provisions accordingly. In consequence, there is confusion and uncertainty about Bill C-6's application to health care. Even more seriously, however, Bill C-6 fails to recognize that health information requires stronger or greater privacy protection than other types of information. The Bill makes a cursory attempt at distinguishing among varying types of personal information and gives inadequate additional protection to information that is highly sensitive (such as health information), notwithstanding the provisions in Paragraph 4.3.4 of Schedule 1 concerning consent which do provide some latitude for more stringent requirements in the case of sensitive information. The Bill permits the collection, use and disclosure of information without knowledge or consent on grounds such as expediency, practicality, public good, research, offence investigation, historic importance and artistic purposes. In the context of health information, these grounds should be subject to intense scrutiny to determine their relevance and legitimacy. Some of these grounds would not withstand scrutiny if subjected to the tests established in the CMA’s Health Information Privacy Code. E. Conclusion CMA believes that health information is special and deserves a higher level of privacy protection than other types of information. The Advisory Council Report also recognizes that distinct rules, more protective of privacy, are required for health information. The Council’s Report places strong emphasis on the protection of privacy, recognizes that, as a general rule, the flow of health information should be on a need-to-know basis and under the control of the patient through the exercise of free and informed consent, and requires limits on the secondary use of health information. The inadequacy of Bill C-6 for health care is not surprising because clearly it was not drafted with health information in mind. Rather, it is written from the perspective of encouraging commerce. It appears to have access to information as its dominant value. However, the world of health care is very different from that of commerce and distinct rules that are more protective of privacy. The CMA Health Information Privacy Code begins from the same starting point as Bill C-6, the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Code which the Bill includes as Schedule 1. However, unlike Bill C-6, the CMA Code tailors the CSA Code to the specific circumstances of health information. The CMA Health Information Privacy Code, therefore, is able to address issues specific to health information that Bill C-6 either fails to address or, even worse, creates. It offers a template for the protection that should be specifically accorded to the right of privacy in health information, a template that appears to have considerable public support and is designed to uphold patient confidence in their physicians and the health care system. Amending Bill C-6 to incorporate the principles in the CMA Code would ensure adequate privacy protection. CMA recommends: That Bill C-6 be amended to incorporate specific provisions relating to health information and that the provisions of the CMA Health Information Privacy Code provide the basis of such provisions. CMA developed the Health Information Privacy Code in recognition of trends and developments that pose new threats to patient privacy and the trust of the therapeutic relationship. In recent years the secondary use of information for purposes other than the purposes for which it was collected has been increasing without adequate oversight or public knowledge. This ‘function creep’ undermines the trust of patient-physician relationship. Collection and use beyond the therapeutic context and for purposes unrelated to the provision of direct care should be subjected to rigorous scrutiny before they are permitted to occur. To the extent that they are permitted to occur without patient consent they should be explicitly authorized in legislation to ensure transparency and adequate oversight. CMA’s Health Information Privacy Code provides a test to which legislation addressing health information should be subjected. This test (found in section 3.6 of the CMA Code) states: Any proposed or existing legislation or regulation made under legislative authority that permits or requires health information collection, use, disclosure or access shall be subjected to the following legislative test: (a) There must be demonstration that: (i) a patient privacy impact assessment has been conducted, the analysis has been made public and has been duly considered prior to the introduction of legislation [section 3.5 of the Code provides guidance with respect to the patient privacy impact assessment]; (ii) collection, use, disclosure and access will be limited to the greatest degree possible to ensure that * the collection of health information by persons external to the therapeutic context will neither trade on nor compromise the trust of the patient-physician relationship; * patients are not likely to be inhibited from confiding information for primary purposes; * the ability of physicians to discharge their fiduciary duties to patients will not be compromised; and, * patient vulnerability will not be exploited; (iii) collection, use, disclosure and access will be restricted to what is necessary for the identified purpose(s) and will not impede the confiding or collection of information for primary purposes; (iv) provisions exist for ensuring that patients are provided with knowledge about the purpose(s) and that, subject to 3.6(b), patient consent is clearly voluntary; (v) the means used are proportionate and the collection will be limited to purposes consented to or made known to the patient; (vi) the patient’s privacy will be intruded upon to the most limited degree possible in light of the purpose(s) consented to or made known to the patient; (vii) linkage of the health information will be limited; and (viii) unless clear and compelling reasons exist: * all reasonable steps will be taken to make health information anonymous; and * if it has been demonstrated that making health information anonymous would render it inadequate for legitimate uses, the information will be collected and stored in a deidentified-relinkable format. (b) When nonconsensual collection, use, disclosure or access is permitted or required by legislation or regulation that meets the requirements of the Code, the following conditions must also be met: (i) the right of privacy has to be violated because the purpose(s) could not be met adequately if patient consent is required; and (ii) the importance of the purpose(s) must be demonstrated to justify the infringement of the patient’s right of privacy in a free and democratic society. (c) Any legislative provision or regulation that permits or requires health information collection, use, disclosure or access nonconsensually shall not, without compelling reasons, be applied retroactively to existing health information. In its current form, Bill C-6 would not pass the scrutiny of the test. Consequently, CMA recommends: That the proposed rules for health legislation be subject to the legislative test found in CMA’s Health Information Privacy Code and formulated in light of this process. IV. Specific Comments on Bill C-6 From the Perspective of CMA’s Health Information Privacy Code This section highlights some key distinctions between the approach taken by Bill C-6 and CMA’s Health Information Privacy Code. It uses examples to illustrate divergent approaches taken for the purpose of demonstrating that Bill C-6 is inadequate in the protection it accords health information and to show how the CMA Health Information Privacy Code would address the issues adequately. A. General Bill C-6 and CMA’s Health Information Privacy Code are based on the Canadian Standards Association’s Model Code for the Protection of Personal Information (CSA Code). Bill C-6 and the CMA Code also augment the CSA Code’s provisions where considered necessary. The need to extend the provisions of the CSA Code demonstrates that the CSA Code, being general in nature, provides inadequate protection to information in many instances. The CSA recognized this at the time it developed its Code and specifically issued additional, specific guidance for health information in the form of an appendix to the Workbook for applying the Code. The Workbook begins: Information regarding one’s health and health records may be among the most sensitive of all personal data. Individuals are concerned that inappropriate disclosure of such information could unduly affect their employment status or their lives in general. . . Some health information is obtained directly from health care providers who have been given a patient’s private information with the expectation that this information will remain as a private communication. Health care providers . . . in turn, feel that such concerns could influence individuals to withhold vital information or avoid treatment to ensure their private information remains as such. Implementation of privacy procedures that adhere to the principles in the CSA Code and rigid applications of such procedures are essential steps for organizations that require access to health information, to maintain an individual’s trust that sensitive personal information remains confidential. In designing and implementing such procedures, organizations should recognize the sensitive nature of such information and also the fact that the primary reason that health care providers maintain records is to ensure that safe and efficacious care is provided. The Workbook goes on to list 7 interpretative points to augment the CSA Code, providing additional privacy protection as it applies to health information, including the following: requirements for the individual’s knowledge and consent be rigidly followed. Consent to acquire and disclose health information should be undertaken with the individual’s full knowledge of the scope of information to be requested. Bill C-6 does not include these additional interpretive points. It does not give due recognition that health information, because of its high sensitivity, deserves even stronger protection than is provided in the CSA Code as appended in Schedule 1 of the Bill (which even the Committee that drafted the CSA Code recognized). Although Bill C-6 and the CMA Code are based on the CSA Code, each takes a different approach to the ultimate protection accorded information and to the right of privacy. This divergence demonstrates that there are many ways to resolve issues left unresolved by the CSA Code. In other words, it is not a foregone conclusion that basing provisions on the CSA Code will result in appropriate or adequate protection of information. Rather, resolution of issues requires thought and deliberation and will depend in some measure on the primacy given to certain values. Bill C-6 appears to have given access primacy in the pursuit of commerce, whereas CMA gives privacy protection primacy in the pursuit of the provision of health care in accordance with physicians’ fiduciary obligations to patients and the integrity of the patient-physician relationship. CMA did not develop its approach in a vacuum. It reviewed, and was inspired by, the report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Rights and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, entitled Privacy: Where Do We Draw the Line? This report articulates and makes explicit many of the issues that should be informing the current debate on Bill C-6. In addition, the Report of the Advisory Council takes a very different approach than Bill C-6. The Report recognizes the need to pay more than lip service to protecting privacy and confidentiality and recommends specific measures aimed at doing this. B. Primacy of the Therapeutic Purpose The root of most of the problems in applying Bill C-6 to health care is its failure to distinguish among purposes for the collection, use and disclosure of health information. In particular, the Bill fails to distinguish between the primary purpose, which is to deliver care to and for the benefit of an individual patient, and secondary purposes, which are not for the direct benefit of the patient and indeed may even involve using the patient’s information to his or her detriment. Under Bill C-6, the same rules apply equally to both the primary and to secondary purposes. In other sectors this failure to distinguish different purposes and to fashion rules in light of salient differences may not pose problems. In the health care sector, however, the consequences could be quite serious. As applied to secondary purposes, the provisions in Bill C-6 fail to limit access appropriately. Access to information may occur in ways that are inappropriate and violate the privacy of patients. As applied to the primary purpose -- the use of a person`s information to provide that person with care -- the rules in the Bill, if rigidly construed, may inhibit access that would otherwise be appropriate and consistent with the patient`s right of privacy. For example, the consent provisions in the Bill could create impediments to information flow where various members of a ‘health care team’ require information about the patient in order to be effective for the patient’s benefit; the provisions in the Bill that seek to limit the extent of information collection could inhibit physicians from being as extensive as they sometimes are and should be in collecting information from patients for the purpose of providing care; the provisions in the Bill requiring that the patient`s request to review his or her record be in writing could in fact be a barrier to patient access which might otherwise be facilitated informally and consistently with the patient`s wishes by a simple verbal request. Such consequences no doubt would be unintended by the drafters of the Bill; the drafters might even argue that for someone to interpret the provisions mentioned above as potentially leading to these consequences would be to misinterpret them. Regardless, the fact is that the Bill, on these matters and others, is somewhat strained when its provisions are applied to health care. The CMA Health Information Privacy Code, however, is not. It begins from the same starting point as Bill C-6, which is the CSA Code. However, the CMA, recognizing (as the drafters of the CSA Code apparently also did) that the CSA Code would need to be tailored to deal adequately with health information, did so in drafting its Health Information Privacy Code. This document was written from the ground up not just with privacy first and foremost as a value but also with specific reference to the health sector. And it is based on the fundamental premise that not all purposes for the use of health care are equal and that the therapeutic purpose must be given primacy. Thus the CMA Health Information Privacy Code avoids the kind of problems identified above that might arise as Bill C-6 is applied to health information. For example, it specifies that the collection of health information for the primary purpose of providing care “may be as extensive as necessary to fulfil these purposes and reflect the high level of trustworthiness and accountability of health professionals in the therapeutic context” (3.2) but that for any secondary purposes it should be “as minimal as necessary in recognition of the need to protect the patient’s right of privacy in the therapeutic context” (3.3.). As concerns consent, which CMA recognizes to be core to the protection of privacy, the CMA Code articulates rules for consent in recognition of the importance of timely information flow in the team context and as appropriate to meet the purpose for which the patient has confided the information in the first place, which is to receive care. It stipulates that consent for the primary purpose may therefore be implied, albeit with certain qualifications. Moreover, where consent is required, the provisions of the Code allow that “the conveyance of generic information is a reasonable means of providing knowledge” in most circumstances, which means that this requirement is unlikely to create unreasonable burdens that would diminish rather than strengthen the therapeutic relationship. Finally, the CMA Code limits itself to issues of principle concerning patient access to their records; Bill C-6, by specifying that requests must be in writing, could in fact be creating a barrier to patient access or an undue burden upon the patient-physician relationship as there may be instances when an informal request would be quite appropriate. C. Knowledge of Purpose Prior to Collection Bill C-6 Bill C-6 is ambiguous in its provisions relating to whether or not a person should know the purposes for which information will be used prior to disclosure. This is due in part to the use of the term “knowledge and consent” as one concept rather than distinguishing the knowledge requirement from the consent requirement. What a person should know in relation to the purposes for which information might be used or disclosed, prior to its being given, is distinct conceptually from whether the person must consent before information can be used or disclosed for a particular purpose. Schedule 1 of the Bill contains a number of principles. For the purposes of this Brief the schedule will be referred to in terms of the principles (and their subparagraphs). Principle 2 addresses the identification of purposes for which information will be used or disclosed. Provided a purpose is identified it becomes a legitimate purpose (this Brief recognizes that the addition of the “reasonable person” clause in 5(3) takes precedence and provides some grounds for distinguishing legitimate and illegitimate purposes). Subparagraph 3 states that the identified purposes should be specified at or before the time of collection. Section 5(2) of the Bill states that the use of ‘should’ in schedule 1 indicates a recommendation and does not impose an obligation. Therefore, according to subparagraph 3, it is recommended but is not obligatory that disclosure occur. On the other hand, principle 3 addresses consent and appears to impose an obligation by stating that the knowledge and consent of the individual are required for the collection, use, or disclosure of personal information, except where inappropriate. Similarly subparagraph 2 appears to create something of an obligation by stating, “organizations shall make a reasonable effort to ensure that the individual is advised of the purposes for which the information will be used.” Section 7(1)(a) permits the collection of information without knowledge and consent when collection is clearly in the interests of the individual and consent cannot be obtained. The intent of this section could be made clearer, particularly in terms of who determines the “interests of the individual.” Otherwise this exception could give undesirable licence to collect without knowledge or consent. The provision in section 7(1)(b) is more problematic. This section appears to favour withholding knowledge from an individual if such knowledge would compromise accuracy, defeat the purpose for collection or prejudice the use. In some instances it may well be that, if an individual is provided with knowledge of the purposes for which information is collected and the uses to which it will be put, he or she may choose to withhold information rather than disclose it, and in doing so would clearly compromise accuracy, defeat the purpose for collection or prejudice the use to which the information will be put. This is contrary to principle 4.4.2, which recognizes that information should not be collected by misleading or deceiving individuals. The intent of this section should be far clearer and circumscribed in such a way as to make it clear that it is not permissible to withhold knowledge or not seek consent simply on the basis that if a person had knowledge they would not wish to disclose information. Section 7(1)(c) allows collection without knowledge or consent for journalistic, artistic or literary purposes. This provision is totally inappropriate in the case of health information. CMA Health Information Privacy Code The CMA Health Information Privacy Code is considerably more restrictive that Bill C-6. It recognizes that, in the therapeutic context, health information is confided or collected under the patient’s presumption that it is necessary to meet his or her therapeutic needs. The potential that health information may be subsequently collected, used, disclosed or accessed for other purposes without patient consent should be made known to patients before information is confided or collected for the primary therapeutic purpose. Moreover, it is not acceptable to withhold knowledge from patients deliberately out of concern that knowledge could inhibit them from confiding important information fully and truthfully. The CMA Health Information Privacy Code limits the nonconsensual collection of health information to circumstances where it is either permitted or required by legislation or ordered or decided by a court of law. In addition, the CMA Code gives explicit direction to legislators with respect to the conditions under which legislation should permit or require health information collection (see section 3.6 of CMA Code). In the case of nonconsensual collection, the following conditions are stipulated: 1. The right of privacy has to be violated because the purposes could not be met adequately if patient consent is required; and 2. The importance of the purposes must be demonstrated to justify the infringement of the patient’s right of privacy in a free and democratic society. D. Use Without Knowledge Or Consent Bill C-6 Once information has been collected and despite the limits, inadequate though they be, placed on collection without knowledge or consent, it can be put to even greater use than for the purposes for which it has been collected (with or without knowledge or consent). Section 7(2) opens up dramatically the uses to which collected information may be put without either knowledge or consent. At a minimum, and with little additional administrative effort, the enumerated grounds of section 7(2) (and 7(3) should be made known to an individual prior to their disclosure of information, which would be in keeping with the principle of openness and explicitness. Section 7(2)(a) allows use in connection with the investigation of an offence. In the medical context this could be problematic, particularly if it is interpreted to impose an obligation. Generally, there is no obligation to assist in the investigation of an offence, and indeed the fiduciary duty between patient and physician and the duty of confidentiality owed to the patient by the physician would suggest that physicians not offer information, despite its usefulness. Section 7(2)(b) recognizes emergency situations. However, as worded, section 7(2)(b) would allow access to anyone’s information if it is for the purpose of acting in an emergency threatening the life, health or security of an individual. The implications of this section should be carefully thought through. It is not desirable to give such a broad licence to access anyone’s information on the basis of an emergency. There should be some limiting principle that takes into account the prevailing view that people generally are not required to go to the assistance of others (emergency or otherwise) and that information about oneself is considered worthy of protection against use or disclosure, despite its potential benefit to others (for example, genetic information or HIV or Hepatitis C status). Section 7(2)(c) is very problematic as it permits the use of “identifiable” information for a host of purposes, including statistical and research, when it is impractical to seek consent. Even though the Commissioner must be informed of the use before the information is used the Commissioner has no power to approve or reject the use. If the use is legitimate under the Bill there would be no grounds open to the Commissioner to cause an audit to occur. This section gives significant scope for the secondary use of information that has been collected without knowledge or consent; in the case of health information it is very problematic. CMA Health Information Privacy Code The CMA Code makes a clear distinction between the primary purpose for the collection and use of health information and secondary purposes for its use. The key distinction between these two categories is that primary purposes relates to the provision of the health care benefit sought whereas secondary purposes are ends or aims that are not directly related to the provision of care. The CMA Code divides secondary purposes into two categories: 1. Secondary legislated purposes are those purposes that have been subjected to the legislative test specified in the Code and have subsequently been written into law; 2. Secondary nonlegislated purposes are any other purposes, such as education or research not governed by legislation, that meet the provisions of the CMA Code and the secondary nonlegislative test provided by the Code. The tests that the CMA Code requires of both relate to: 1. Impact on privacy. 2. Impact on the patient-physician relationship, especially confidentiality and trust. 3. Impact on the willingness of patients to disclose information. 4. Impact on patients’ ability to receive care. 5. Evidence of broad public support for the measure. 6. The use will not exploit or compromise the trust of the patient-physician relationship. 7. Patient vulnerability will not be exploited. 8. Under most circumstances patients will be fully informed of the purpose and patient consent will be clearly voluntary. 9. Patient privacy will be intruded upon to the most limited degree possible. 10. Linkage of health information will be restricted and consented to by patients. In other words, the CMA Code does not permit any and all secondary purposes for the use of health information. Rather, it requires justification for the secondary use and assurance that the secondary use will neither impede nor undermine the patient-physician relationship and the provision of health care to the patient. This test is much more privacy protective than the “reasonable person” test the Bill contains in Section 5(3). Moreover, the CMA Code only permits use without consent if it is permitted or required by legislation or when ordered or decided by a court of law. The Advisory Council Report Like the CMA, the Advisory Council Report makes distinctions among various types of uses. The Report calls for legislation to clearly prohibit all secondary commercial use of personal health information (in which respect the Advisory Council takes an even stronger position than the CMA). In addition, the Report recommends that there be provisions regulating secondary uses of non-identifiable health information and that such provisions should address privacy concerns surrounding the degree to which such data might be linked back to an identifiable individual. In this context, the Report recommends that legislation set clear limits on access to and use of health information by third parties outside the health care system. In addition the Report reviews the uses of health information for statistical and research purposes. In connection with research, the Report calls for a number of safeguards and restrictions: 1. Where the data sets used have a higher level of potential identifiability, “the general rule should be informed consent and stringent assurances about privacy protection and security arrangements are necessary before a researcher can have access to personally identifiable information.” 2. The Report recognizes that in some instances it may be impractical to obtain consent from patients. Whether in anonymous or identifiable form, the Report requires that notice be given about the use of the information. In the case of the use of identifiable information, the Report states that the research should be subject to independent ethics review with the onus on the person seeking to use the information without consent to demonstrate that: (a) a tangible public good of significant benefit will result; (b) consent is impossible to secure at a reasonable cost; (c) less identifiable data will not serve the same purpose; and (d) no harm can occur to any person directly or indirectly as a result of this use of his or her personal information. E. Disclosure Without Knowledge Or Consent Bill C-6 The comments found under C. and D. above apply equally here. Section 7(3) adds further instances when collected information can be disclosed to others without knowledge or consent. CMA Health Information Privacy Code In the case of secondary use of health information, the CMA Code takes a far more restrictive approach. As concerns use, disclosure or access, it states: The potential that health information, in whole or in part, may be subsequently collected, used, disclosed or accessed for other purposes without their consent, and what those purposes might be, must be made known to the patient by reasonable means before it is confided or collected for primary purposes. Moreover, the CMA Code recognizes that information disclosed by one organization is collected by another. The Code defines collection to mean: the act of accessing, receiving, compiling, gathering, acquiring or obtaining health information from any source, including third parties, and by any means. It includes information collected from the patient, as well as secondary collection of this information in whole or in part by another provider or user. The collecting organization should be bound by the provisions of the CMA Code, which generally requires consent for use for any purpose and always requires knowledge of the potential purposes that information will or must be put to prior to the information being disclosed. CMA’s Code states: Health information custodians must ensure that third parties privy to health information have adopted this Code or are bound by equivalent provisions. Finally, the CMA Code explicitly recognizes that information can be retrieved from a variety of sources to formulate records. Any and all such practices and the composite form developed are given the same degree of protection as that accorded information collected directly from the patient. F. Consent Bill C-6 In those cases where consent for collection, use or disclosure are required, the provisions in Bill C-6 are inadequate as applied to health care. Schedule 1 distinguishes between express and implied consent. Express consent is not adequately defined and it appears that this is not equivalent to what in health care is called ‘informed consent’. For example, Principle 4.3.2. says that “organizations shall make a reasonable effort to ensure that the individual is advised of the purposes for which the information will be used”. In the health care context, the notion of ‘reasonableness’ with respect to the doctrine of informed consent applies not to the effort to advise or inform (that much is assumed or given) but rather to determinations regarding what information should be provided to the patient. In addition, the application of some of the means described in Principle 4.3.7 by which individuals can give consent, and in particular the ‘negative option’ checkoff box in (b), may be quite problematic in the health care context. The broad scope allowed to implied consent in the Bill is also worrisome as applied to the health care setting. Principle 4.3.6 says “implied consent would generally be appropriate when the information is less sensitive”. However, with implied consent the issue is not the sensitivity of the information but rather the wishes of the patient. It is appropriate to infer consent even when the information is very sensitive provided one has reason to believe this is grounded in the patients wishes; conversely, it is not appropriate to infer consent, even in the case of information deemed not to be sensitive, if there is reason to believe the patient would object if asked explicitly. CMA Health Information Privacy Code The CMA Code furnishes clear definitions for consent: “Consent” means a patient’s informed and voluntary agreement to confide or permit access to or the collection, use or disclosure of his or her health information for specific purposes. For purposes other than the provision of direct care, which is the purpose for which the patient presents in the first place, the consent must always be explicit or express since there is no logical connection between secondary purposes and the desire to achieve care. Therefore inferences cannot be made with any confidence. The Code defines express consent as follows: “Express consent” is given explicitly, either orally or in writing. Express consent is unequivocal and does not require any inference on the part of the provider seeking consent. The CMA Code defines implied consent to disallow the loose use of the term, which is increasing today, to justify access for purposes (secondary purposes in particular) that the patient may not wish to occur: Implied consent arises where agreement may reasonably be inferred from the action or inaction of the individual and there is good reason to believe that the patient has knowledge relevant to this agreement and would give express consent were it sought. The CMA Code also lays out clear rules for the use of the concept of consent and makes clear that consent can be inferred for primary purposes (i.e., the provision of health care to the patient) but not for secondary ones, which require express consent. The Code grounds the notion of implied consent not in the desire to subvert express consent and thereby gain access to information that might otherwise be denied but rather in the wishes of the patient and the importance of providing health care for therapeutic purposes as consistent with those wishes. Advisory Council Report In addition to being more stringent than Bill C-6 about exemptions to consent, the Advisory Council Report also gives greater importance to defining the term clearly and strictly. It says that any legislation concerning health information should: contain a precise definition of free and informed consent, as well as a statement of principle that informed consent should be the basis for sharing personal health information. Although not as precise and emphatic on the subject of consent as is the CMA Health Information Privacy Code, the Report is certainly more so than is Bill C-6. G. Information Flow Within Organizations Bill C-6 Bill C-54 defined use to include “the transfer of personal information within an organization.” Bill C-6 no longer defines use, which leaves it uncertain whether the definition of use quoted above from Bill C-54 would be a reasonable interpretation of Bill C-6. If so, this would create a problem. Interpreting use in this way could have the effect of inappropriately restricting the free flow of information within an organization. In the health care context this is not a reasonable or desirable outcome and would hinder, rather than promotes, the patient’s right of privacy. CMA Code The CMA Code recognizes that the free flow of health information is desirable to the extent that it furthers the provision of the health care benefit sought and that it occurs with patient consent. The Code defines the primary purpose to mean: (i) Primary therapeutic purpose is the initial reason for a patient seeking or receiving care in the therapeutic context, and pertains to the delivery of health care to a particular patient with respect to the presenting health need or problem. It encompasses consultation with and referral to other providers on a need-to-know basis. (ii) Primary longitudinal purpose concerns developing composite health information about a particular patient, such as a detailed medical history, beyond direct application to the presenting health need or problem, in order to enhance ongoing care to that person. The Code goes on to state that: Health information collection, use, disclosure or access for the primary therapeutic and longitudinal purposes may be as extensive as necessary to fulfil these purposes and reflect the high level of trustworthiness and accountability of health professionals in the therapeutic context. And further states that: Security safeguards shall impede as little as possible health information collection, use, access and disclosure for primary purposes. Finally, in addressing consent the Code states: Consent to health information collection, use, disclosure and access for the primary therapeutic purpose may be inferred. Consent to subsequent collection, use, disclosure and access on a need-to-know basis by or to other physicians or health providers for this purpose, and for this purpose alone, may be inferred, as long as there is no evidence that the patient would not give express consent to share the information. The principles in the CMA Code that give effect to the patient’s right to control what happens to his or her information are not incompatible with the free flow of information among members of a health team for the purpose of providing care to the patient. Indeed, they facilitate and enable this flow to the extent this is in keeping with the patient’s wishes. H. Information Protected Bill C-6 The Bill covers “personal information” which is defined to mean “information about an identifiable individual, but does not include the name, title or business address or telephone number of an employee of an oganization.” This definition raises a host of questions: 1. Does the Bill cover information that has been delinked to an identifiable individual but that could be relinked to identify them? 2. Does the Bill only exclude anonymous information - that is, information that could never be relinked to an identifiable individual? And if so, is there an unjustified assumption that information can, in all cases, be rendered truly anonymous? 3. In the case of delinked and anonymous information, who decides that information about an identifiable individual can be rendered delinked or anonymous? The holder of the information or the person to whom the information pertains? 4. Is it accurate or reasonable to assume that people have no interest in information emanating from them once it has been rendered delinked or anonymous? 5. Given that anonymous information is generated from personal information, is the act or process rendering personal information into anonymous form considered a use under the terms of the Bill, and if so does this use require consent? In considering these questions, it is important to keep in mind that the concept of “anonymity” means different things to different people. Moreover, there are no generally used or accepted standards that address what is required to render identifiable information truly anonymous. As a consequence, different people use different standards (of varying degrees of rigour), if they use a standard at all. It is also important to note that, in virtue of sophisticated techniques for identifying individuals from supposedly anonymous information, there is debate about the extent to which true anonymity can ever be achieved or guaranteed. CMA Health Information Privacy Code In light of issues concerning the definition of ‘personal information’ and in the interest of ensuring a thorough scrutiny of information practices, the CMA Code provides a broad definition of health information: Health information means any information about a patient that is confided or collected in the therapeutic context, including information created or generated from this information and information that is not directly or indirectly linked to the provision of health care. It includes all information formats. The CMA Code covers identifiable information, delinked information, anonymous information and any composite form that is produced when health information is linked to other information about the patient. CMA’s research indicates that patients have an interest in their information even when it is in delinked and in anonymous formats. This view has recently received support from a decision of the High Court of Justice in England that is particularly relevant in the context of the commercial use of health information (Source Informatics Ltd. v. Department of Health). The issue arose because a prescription database company sought judicial review of a Department of Health policy document that advised National Health Service GPs and pharmacists not to sell “anonymous” prescribing or dispensing information. The document contained the following analysis: Anonymisation (with or without aggregation) does not, in our view, remove the duty of confidence towards the patients who are the subject of the data. Apart from the risk of identification of a patient despite anonymisation, the patient would not have entrusted the information to the GP or the pharmacist for it to be provided to the data company. The patient would not be aware of or have consented to the information being given to the data company, but would have given it to be used in connection with his care and treatment and wider NHS purposes. Anonymisation of the data (with or without aggregation) would not obviate a breach of confidence. . . .The duty of confidence may in some circumstances be outweighed by the public interest in disclosure. However we have severe reservations that disclosure by GPs or NHS pharmacists of dispensing information to X or other data companies would be argued to be in the public interest. Indeed it might well be contrary to the public interest if the data company is further selling the information on doctors prescribing habits to the pharmaceutical industry. High Court Justice Latham upheld the policy document, arguing that the information in question, though anonymous, was nonetheless confidential. He also argued that consent to its release was necessary and could not be implied, and that the breach of confidentiality involved in selling this information could not be justified as being in the public interest: In my view, it is impossible to escape the logic . . . that the proposal involves the unauthorised use by the pharmacist of confidential information. . . . In my judgement what is proposed will result in a clear breach of confidence unless the patient gives consent, which is not part of the proposal at present. Nor is it suggested that the patient can be said to have given implied consent. . . . I recognize that, for some, the sensitivity, as they see would see it, of the information may be such that they would feel that any use of the information without their consent, would be unconscionable. In other words it would be a breach of trust which they were reposing in the pharmacist. . . I have come to the conclusion that . . . this [is] a type of situation . . . in which there is a public interest in ensuring that confidences are kept. It is important that those who require medical assistance should not be inhibited in any way from seeking or obtaining. As I have indicated, I believe that there may be some patients who will feel very strongly that the pharmacist should not give any information obtained from the prescription without their consent. In view of the fact that there is a growing industry in so-called anonymous health information, it is important to ensure that this information is protected as consistent with the duties of health care providers and the expectation patients have that their providers will keep their information confidential. Advisory Council Report The Advisory Council Report addresses this issue in a number of ways. In making recommendations concerning the definition of health information, the Report calls for legislation that embodies: a clear definition of health information, broad enough to incorporate health information collected in public and private systems and to ensure that equal obligations and penalties apply to both public and private sectors. The Report recognizes a spectrum of data formats: completely anonymous, linked to pseudo-identities, code linked and reidentifiable, completely identifiable. In terms of sensitivity, the Report notes that information that can be re-identified is somewhat more sensitive than completely anonymous data or anonymous data linked to pseudo-identities and that completely identifiable health information is the most sensitive type of health information. The Report also notes that there can be some degree of risk of re-identification of what was believed to be anonymous data through such processes as data matching and the results of analysis using small cells. In this light, the Report recommends that legislation should recognize: A definition of personal health information, which takes into account the spectrum of potential identifiability in the case of health information. Furthermore, in the case of secondary uses of health information, the Report notes that provisions regulating secondary uses of non-identifiable health information must form part of any comprehensive legislation. Such provisions should address privacy concerns surrounding the degree to which data might be linked back to an identifiable individual. The Report raises further issues relating to the use of delinked and anonymous data. The Report notes that there may be group interests and concerns regarding data collected and states: Privacy can also be a concern for groups such as Aboriginal and immigrant communities. These communities worry that research on their members could be released to the media without notice and used in a negative way. This emerging issue is growing in importance and, in the Council’s view, should be a serious consideration in the context of ethical reviews of proposed research projects. It is important to note that, in these instances, it is not the fact that data is linked to an identifiable individual that is of concern. Rather, it is the ability to accumulate, process and dissect information that has ramifications for an individual because they are part of a group segregated and identified by the research. Finally, the Report considers the use of person-oriented data (data linked to individuals in a form where personal identifiers have been replaced by a code) for statistical purposes and notes that this too raises concerns about privacy. The Report notes that: “These concerns have traditionally been seen as a tradeoff against data access for research and analysis in the public interest.” The Report restates this to provide a more positive view of privacy and states: the best way for analysts to maintain the public’s consent to use sensitive (but anonymous) health data is to show the public that privacy, confidentiality and security are being taken seriously. In view of the issues concerning the definition of personal information and in the interest of ensuring maximum scrutiny of practices concerning health information and maximum protection of the right of privacy with respect to health information, CMA recommends: That there be a clear definition of the information being accorded a right of privacy and that this definition, at least in the case of health information, include identifiable information, delinked information, anonymous information and any composite information produced when health information is linked to any information about a person from any other source. I. Individual Access Bill C-6 Bill C-6 restricts the right of individual access to personal information. The grounds for denying access to information are inappropriate in the health care context. CMA Code The CMA Code follows the prevailing case law as it relates to medical records. Primarily this gives patients a right of access to their record in all but very limited circumstances. These circumstances are when there is a significant likelihood of a substantial adverse effect on the physical, mental or emotional health of the patient or substantial harm to a third party. The onus lies on the provider to justify denial of access on these grounds. J. Accuracy and Amendment Bill C-6 Bill C-6 requires that information be as accurate, complete and up-to-date as possible and that it shall not be routinely updated unless this is necessary to fulfil the purpose for its collection. In so far as amendment is concerned, Bill C-6 permits amendment to the record in specified circumstances. CMA Code The CMA Code takes a different approach in light of the nature and purpose of health information. The Code recognizes that the recording of statements of fact, clinical judgements and determinations or assessments should reflect as nearly as possible what has been confided by the patient and what has been ascertained, hypothesized or determined to be true using professional judgement. In terms of amending the record in light of a patient’s request, the CMA Code seeks to preserve the original record but also provide for noting the patient’s concerns. To accommodate both requirements the CMA Code states: Patients who have reviewed their information and believe it to be inaccurately recorded or false have the right to suggest amendments and to have their amendments appended to the health information. K. Sensitivity Bill C-6 Schedule 1 recognizes that medical records have a high level of sensitivity attached. For this reason this information may warrant special attention concerning consent, reasonable expectations, individual access and the degree of security that is appropriate. CMA Code The CMA Code recognizes that, even as all health information is sensitive (when considered against other forms of information about individuals), there are also variations in the level of sensitivity in various aspects of the health record. The CMA Code defines the “sensitivity of health information” to refer to: the patient’s interest in keeping the information secret. It varies according to the nature of the information, its form, and the potential negative repercussions of its collection, use or disclosure on the patient’s interests. Under the Code’s consent provisions it is stated that: Although all health information is sensitive and should be treated as such, the more sensitive the health information is likely to be, given what is known about the circumstances or preferences of the patient, the more important it is to ensure that consent is voluntary and informed. With respect to security the Code states: The development of security safeguards with respect to levels of access for various users shall recognize the differences in the sensitivity of health information and permit access accordingly. Moreover, the Code recognizes that health information is special and therefore requires distinct rules that afford stronger privacy protection not just due to its sensitivity but also to the circumstances of vulnerability and trust under which it is initially confided or collected. These special circumstnaces, which include much more than sensitivity, are outlined in Principle 2 of the Code. Bill C-6, by contrast, fails to consider these other features that make health information a special case. In consequence its provisions are not adquately tailored to the special nature of health information and do not accord it the strong privacy protection it warrants. V. Conclusions The increased capacity to collect, store, transfer, merge and access information, coupled with trends that support increased use of and access to information, have the potential to erode our traditional understanding and protection of privacy and confidentiality. The issues are complex and the choices we must make are difficult. Nevertheless, these issues should be squarely on the table and the choices that we make must be clear, transparent and defensible. Of paramount importance is that the public is not mislead into believing that their information is being protected or kept confidential when in fact it is not. Therefore, even to refer to Bill C-6 as the “Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act” should be the subject of debate. Is the Bill truly about information protection or is it actually about permitting access to information? The approach to rules for information in Bill C-6 is directed toward commerce and appears to have access, and not privacy, as its dominant value, notwithstanding the Bill’s reference to a “right of privacy”. In CMA’s view, the Bill’s approach is inadequate when applied to health information. Based on the evidence, it seems highly likely that the public would also find Bill C-6 inadequate. Bill C-6 was not developed with health information in mind. In consequence there is confusion and uncertainty about its application to the health care context. Even more seriously, however, Bill C-6 fails to recognize that privacy with respect to health information requires stronger or greater protection than other types of information. CMA presents a different approach, an approach that recognizes the special nature of health information; an approach that puts patients first and values privacy and the preservation of the trust and integrity of the patient-physician relationship. This approach appears to be well-grounded in the values that Canadians hold about privacy and would likely enjoy broad public support. In addition, the CMA approach draws support from the Federal Advisory Council Report, which like CMA recognizes the importance of preserving patient privacy and the confidentiality of the health record in an era of increased use of technology. Implicitly, the Report recognizes that the benefits of such technology cannot be realized if public support, based on respect for privacy, cannot be secured. The CMA’s Health Information Privacy Code does what Bill C-6 fails to do. Amending Bill C-6 to incorporate the principles in the CMA Code would ensure adequate privacy protection. In light of the clear deficits in Bill C-6 and the inadequate protection of patient privacy and health information confidentiality, CMA urges this Committee to accept its recommendations and the amendment that incorporates them. Nothing less would give Canadians the high level of privacy protection they desire and deserve when it comes to their health information. VI. Summary of Recommendations That Bill C-6 be amended to incorporate specific provisions relating to health information and that the provisions of the CMA Health Information Privacy Code provide the basis of such provisions; and That any proposed rules for health legislation be subject to the legislative test found in CMA’s Health Information Privacy Code and formulated in light of this process; and That there be a clear definition of the information being accorded a right of privacy and that this definition, at least in the case of health information, include identifiable information, delinked information, anonymous information and any composite information produced when health information is linked to any other information about a person from any other source; and That, at least in connection with health information, the provisions of the Bill apply equally to the public and the private sectors. CMA has drafted an amendment to Bill C-6 (Appendix B) which, if accepted, would achieve all of these recommendations and adequately give Canadians the kind of privacy protection with respect to their health information that they deserve and desire.
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Listening to our Patient's Concerns : Comments on Bill C 54 (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Document Act) : Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy1980
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
1999-03-18
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Health information and e-health
Ethics and medical professionalism
  2 documents  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
1999-03-18
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Health information and e-health
Ethics and medical professionalism
Text
Over the last year, CMA has become increasingly concerned that debate on the issues concerning health information have been framed in terms of access to information with an attendant erosion of privacy and confidentiality. This one-sided approach comes at a time of expansion in our capacity to collect, store, merge, transfer and access information, coupled with trends both in the health care sector and generally related to the use of information To address these concerns and to ensure that privacy and confidentiality in the medical context are valued, protected and preserved, CMA developed and adopted a Health Information Privacy Code. This Code should form the basis of all legislation governing the collection, use and disclosure of health information. Health information is special by its nature. Rules relating to health information must be developed in recognition of its special nature. Ensuring protection of privacy and confidentiality of the patient record must take precedence over other considerations. Bill C-54 fails to do this. Bill C-54 is written from the perspective of encouraging commerce. It appears to have access to information as its dominant value. CMA considers the world of health care to be very different from that of commerce and consequently requiring distinct rules. Health information use must, in all but exceptional and justifiable circumstances, occur only under the strict control of the patient. The patient must be able to exercise control through voluntary, informed consent. Bill C-54 permits the collection, use and disclosure of information without knowledge or consent on grounds such as expediency, practicality, public good, research, offence investigation, historic importance and artistic purpose. The evident lack of protection accorded health information based on such ground, is unacceptable. The absence of protection undermines the integrity of the patient-physician relationship and has the potential to erode the trust patients have in their physicians - a trust that is essential to patients’ willingness to provide the complete information needed to provide them with care. Moreover, distinctions must be made between a patient’s right to know what can or must happen to health information and the right to consent to such use. Not all purposes for the collection and use of health information are equal. Collection and use beyond the therapeutic context should be subjected to rigorous scrutiny before they are permitted to occur. Bill C-54 fails to make such a distinction and treats all purposes that could be identified for information collection or use as equal. Moreover, the Bill has no mechanism to distinguish legitimate purposes, which should be permitted from illegitimate purposes, which should not. In light of the clear deficits in Bill C-54 and the inadequate protection of patient privacy and health information confidentiality, CMA makes the following recommendations: That Bill C-54 be amended to incorporate specific provisions relating to health information and that the provisions of the CMA Code provide the basis of such provisions; and That the proposed rules for health legislation be subject to the legislative test found in CMA’s Code and formulated in light of this process; and That there be a clear definition of the information being accorded a right of privacy and that this definition, at least in the case of health information, include identifiable information, delinked information, anonymous information and any composite form produced when information is linked to any information about a person from any other source; and That, at least in connection with health information, the provisions of the Bill apply equally to the public and the private sectors. I. Introduction The Canadian Medical Association is the national voice of Canadian physicians. Our mission is to provide leadership for physicians and to promote the highest standard of health and health care for Canadians. The CMA is a voluntary professional organization representing the majority of Canada's physicians and comprising 12 provincial and territorial divisions and 43 affiliated medical organizations. On behalf of its 45,000 members and the Canadian public, CMA performs a wide variety of functions, including addressing the emerging issue of electronic health information and confidentiality and privacy. It is in this capacity that we present our position on Bill C 54, The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. CMA commends the government for taking the first, important step of beginning the debate on the protection of personal information. The issues are complex and the interests at stake significant. CMA welcomes the opportunity to provide comments on Bill C-54. CMA hopes that its input will strengthen the Bill by ensuring that patient privacy and the confidentiality of medical records are adequately protected. In preparing this brief CMA has had the benefit of the final report of the federal Advisory Council on Health Infostructure, Canada Health Infoway: Paths to Better Health: Final Report. (“Advisory Council Report”) Where appropriate, CMA cites the findings contained in the report. CMA wishes to underscore the key themes of its brief: A. Health information is special by its nature. Rules relating to health information must be developed in recognition of its special nature. Ensuring protection of privacy and confidentiality of the patient record must take precedence over other considerations. Bill C-54 fails to do this. Bill C-54 is written from the perspective of encouraging commerce. It appears to have access to information as its dominant value. CMA considers the world of health care to be very different from that of commerce and consequently requiring distinct rules. B. Health information use must, in all but exceptional and justifiable circumstances, occur only under the strict control of the patient. The patient must be able to exercise control through voluntary, informed consent. Bill C-54 permits the collection, use and disclosure of information without knowledge or consent on grounds such as expediency, practicality, public good, research, offence investigation, historic importance and artistic purpose. The evident lack of protection accorded health information based on such ground, is unacceptable. The absence of protection undermines the integrity of the patient-physician relationship and has the potential to erode the trust patients have in their physicians - a trust that is essential to patients’ willingness to provide the complete information needed to provide them with care. Moreover, distinctions must be made between a patient’s right to know what can or must happen to health information and the right to consent to such use. C. Not all purposes for the collection and use of health information are equal. Collection and use beyond the therapeutic context should be subjected to rigorous scrutiny before they are permitted to occur. Bill C-54 fails to make such a distinction and treats all purposes that could be identified for information collection or use as equal. Moreover, the Bill has no mechanism to distinguish legitimate purposes, which should be permitted from illegitimate purposes, which should not. This brief will first look at the apparent rationale of Bill C-54 and its potential application to health information. The brief will next describe why CMA considers health information to be special in nature and worthy of special protection. Finally, the brief reviews the difference in approach between Bill C-54 and CMA’s Health Information Privacy Code to illustrate that Bill C-54 provides inadequate protection to patient privacy and health record confidentiality. II. Rationale and Scope of Bill C-54 A. Rational of Bill C-54 The driving force behind Bill C-54 is the support and promotion of electronic commerce. The second part of the Bill is devoted to permitting electronic versions of documents and signatures to be legitimate or ‘originals’ if the provisions of the Act are followed. Part two of the Bill is quite distinct from part one and both parts could stand alone as separate pieces of legislation. Part two simply allows electronic versions of documents and signatures to be recognized as legitimate. On its face, this has little to do with the protection of personal information except to the extent that storage of documents in electronic form provides greater ability to access, link and merge information. Certainly, the Bill appears to draw on this connection by including, in its statement of purpose, the provision of a right of privacy in an era in which technology increasingly facilitates the collection and free flow of information. Part one concerns all forms of information, electronic and otherwise. It gives some protection to personal information by requiring consent in some instances. In CMA’s view, a fundamental difficulty with part one and the Bill in general is that it’s goal is to promote commerce and thus all information is implicitly considered as falling within the ‘commercial’ realm. In the case of health information this is surely not the case or the only consideration. Moreover, this creates a clash of values when applied to a health care system that is a public system. The Advisory Council Report takes a hard line on this issue and states that legislation respecting the privacy protection of health information, “should also contain a clear prohibition against all secondary commercial use of personal health information.” Because all information is subjected to similar rules, there is no attempt within the Bill to distinguish some purposes for collecting information from other purposes. The Bill takes the approach that the purposes should be known and documented. While not stated explicitly, the assumption is that all purposes identified are legitimate and are permitted. CMA has quite a different view when it comes to health information and will expound its view throughout this brief. B. Scope - Application to Medical Records CMA is uncertain whether or to what extent Bill C-54 will apply to health records. The full name of the Act states, in part: An Act to support and promote electronic commerce by protecting personal information that is collected, used or disclosed in certain circumstances.... What are these circumstances? Section 4(1) states that Part 1 (the part protecting personal information) applies in respect of personal information that: (a) the organization collects, uses or discloses in the course of commercial activities; (b) the organization collects, uses or discloses interprovincially or internationally; or (c) is about an employee of the organization and that the organization collects, uses or discloses in connection with the operation of a federal work, undertaking or business. It should further be noted that three years after the Act is in force it will apply equally to activities that occur strictly within the province unless there is legislation in the province that is substantially similar to the Bill (see sections 27(2)(d) and section 30). The first issue is the provision of section 4(1)(a) - collection, use and disclosure in the course of commercial activities. There seems to be an assumption on the part of government that this automatically excludes health records, (although the Act fails to define what is meant by commercial activity). Is this accurate or does the assumption fail to recognize that there is not a clear, unambiguous distinction between what might constitute commercial activity or other activity? There are two points to be made here. The first concerns clarity around where commercial ends and health care begins. Which health care settings that operate for profit are excluded from the Act? This question speaks to the difficulty of delineating what activity is considered health care and what activity is considered commercial. Moreover it recognizes that the increased encouragement to public/private funding of endeavours within the health care sector may make it increasingly difficult to make this distinction; for example in the area of research. The second concerns the movement of health information from the health care setting (recognizing that this is not easily distinguished from the commercial setting) to the commercial setting; for example, health information provided to insurance companies. When health care information is collected in a health care setting and transferred to a commercial setting, which rules apply - Bill C-54 or no rules? In CMA’s view, there is no clear way of distinguishing commercial activity from health care activity in a way that ensures that the health care record is subject to different rules than those pertaining to other records. Moreover, the dilemma for government is that even if such distinction could occur, would it be desirable that health records be subject to no rules? Put in another way, will those organizations that currently collect health care information be entitled to claim that since the information forms part of the health record they are not subject to the provisions of C-54? Under such a regime health care records would be subject to an even lower standard than that provided for information collected in the commercial context. In terms of the provisions of 4(1)(b) - interprovincial and international transfer of information. This appears to apply to all information. In the existing environment and developments such as the “health information highway,” interprovincial transfers of information, the capacity for the central collection and storage of information, mechanisms such as telephone and cable to transfer information and general trends related to population health, it seems likely that interprovincial traffic will grow rather than diminish. The significance of this section, therefore, cannot be underestimated. Finally, the provisions of 4(1)(c) may well contain health information about the employee. In preparing this brief CMA has assumed that the Bill will provide a scheme that applies to some health information. No doubt the extent of the federal governments ability to legislate in this area generally will be the subject of extensive debate. However, CMA has no comment on this debate and provides its opinion in the interests of ensuring that the rules that relate to health information are compatible with preserving the integrity of the patient-physician relationship and the protection of patient privacy and health information confidentiality. CMA considers that the government has an opportunity to provide Canadians with strong privacy rights in health information. Indeed, CMA believes that it is incumbent upon the government to do so. C. Scope - Government Excluded Bill C-54 expressly excludes a large part of government activity from its ambit. While government activity is to some extent governed by the Privacy Act, R.S.C. 1985, P-21, the rules of this act provide less protection than those of Bill C-54. Government should subject itself to at least the same rules that it requires of the private sector in so far as it is a collector and user of information. Moreover, CMA is of the view that government’s practices relating to the collection, storage, merging, transfer and use of health information must be subject to more stringent rules than those found in either the Privacy Act or Bill C-54. The Advisory Council Report also calls for the same rules to apply to the public and private sectors, rules that are more stringent than those found in the Privacy Act or Bill C-54. Therefore, CMA recommends: That, at least in connection with health information, the provisions of the Bill apply equally to the public and the private sectors. III. Considerations Regarding Patient Privacy and Confidentiality: Medical Context Versus Commercial Context A. CMA’s Opinion Over the last year, CMA has become increasingly concerned that debate on the issues concerning health information have been framed in terms of access to information with an attendant erosion of privacy and confidentiality. This one-sided approach comes at a time of expansion in our capacity to collect, store, merge, transfer and access information, coupled with trends both in the health care sector and generally related to the use of information To address these concerns and to ensure that privacy and confidentiality in the medical context are valued, protected and preserved, CMA developed and adopted a Health Information Privacy Code, which is appended to and forms part of this brief. In commenting on this Code the Advisory Council Report notes: The code represents an important contribution to the deliberations of Canadians and legislators on how to safeguard privacy across the health domain. There are a number of principles underpinning the Health Information Privacy Code: 1. The provision of health care to all Canadians irrespective of social circumstances or health status is a highly regarded value in Canadian society. The system is publicly funded and universally accessible. 2. The right of privacy is fundamental to a free and democratic society. 3. Rules relating to health information must recognize its special nature. Health information has a high level of sensitivity, it is confided or collected in circumstances of vulnerability and trust for the primary purpose of benefiting the patient. 4. Physicians now and historically promise that they will keep their patients’ information secret; this is a hallmark of the profession. 5. The patient-physician relationship is one of trust and a central feature of this trust is the belief in patients that information confided in or collected by physicians and other health care providers will be kept secret. 6. Patients believe that the information they disclose or that is gathered as a result of their seeking health care will be used to provide them with health care; uses beyond the provision of health care without knowledge or consent go beyond what a patient’s reasonable expectations were when information was disclosed or gathered and is a breach of the trust patients place in their physicians. 7. Except in very limited circumstances, consent is required for health information collection, use, disclosure or access for any purpose. 8. Information required to provide patients with the health care sought should be readily available to those who require it to provide an aspect of care. 9. Uses of health information for purposes other than the provision of health care to the person seeking care should be subject to rules that: - protect and promote privacy and confidentiality; - generally require express consent; - can be justified according to specific criteria. 10. Patients should know the uses to which their health information is put prior to their disclosure of it. 11. Patients may be reluctant to disclose information if they are concerned about the uses to which the information is put or the persons entitled to access it. B. Public Opinion To determine the public’s view on these issues, CMA commissioned Angus Reid to conduct research in two forms, quantative (survey) and qualitative (focus groups), and has found the following: 1. Patients believe that their health information will be kept confidential and consider this to be important. 2. Patients believe it important to know and control how their health information is shared with others. 3. Patients do not want their health information released to third parties (including governments and researchers) without their knowledge and consent. 4. Patients may have concerns about the release of delinked or anonymous information to third parties without their consent. 5. Patients may be reluctant to confide information as a result of concerns related to its use or disclosure. These findings are consistent with general findings relating to the public’s concerns about privacy and confidentiality. C. The Advisory Council Report The Advisory Council Report relates to the electronic health record. However, given the direction towards the greater use of technology and the underlying principles informing the Advisory Council, CMA believes that the recommendations are generalizable to all health information. A key principle of the Advisory Council is that access by health care professionals should be based on a need-to-know basis under the strict control of the patient. The Council, like CMA calls for scrutiny and justification of secondary uses of health information. The Council is opposed to the use of multipurpose identifiers on the grounds that it becomes too easy for government officials from one department to gain access to a person’s health record or combine a number of records to assemble a comprehensive profile. (Anecdotal evidence suggests that this concern may be justified and that there are insufficient safeguards preventing the flow of health information among government departments) The Council recommends that all governments ensure that they have legislation to address privacy protection specifically aimed at protecting personal health information through explicit and transparent mechanisms. Included in these mechanisms are: * The provision of a precise definition of free and informed consent, as well as a statement of principle that informed consent should be the basis for sharing personal health information; * Any exemption to the requirement of informed consent should be clearly set out in law. More specifically, legislative guidance should be provided on how to balance the right of privacy with the public good for research purposes to implement a coherent and harmonized pan-Canadian system for independent, ethical review. * There should be provisions regulating secondary uses of non-identifiable health information. These provisions should address privacy concern surrounding the degree to which data might be linked back to an identifiable individual. * Legislation should set clear limits on access to and use of health information by third parties outside the health care system. To prevent the serious invasions of privacy that can result from the unrestricted linking of personal health information with other kinds of information on the same individual, the legislation should contain provisions prohibiting the use for any other purpose of unique personal identifiers in health information systems. D. The Approach in Bill C-54 Bill C-54 is inadequate in its protection of health information. The Bill makes a meagre attempt at distinguishing among varying types of personal information and gives no additional protection to information that is highly sensitive (such as health information). The Bill permits the collection, use and disclosure of information without knowledge or consent on grounds such as expediency, practicality, public good, research, offence investigation, historic importance and artistic purposes. In the context of health information, these grounds should be subject to intense scrutiny to determine their relevance and legitimacy. In CMA’s view and according to the tests established in the CMA’s Code, some of these grounds would not withstand such scrutiny. E. Conclusion CMA’s Code offers a template for the protection that should be accorded health information, a template that appears to have some public support and that strives to retain patient confidence in their physicians and the health care system. The Report of the Federal Advisory Council also recognizes that special rules are required for health information. The Council’s Report places strong emphasis on the protection of privacy, recognizes that as a general rule the flow of health information should be on a need-to-know basis and under the control of the patient through the exercise of free and informed consent and requires limits on the secondary use of health information. In CMA’s view, Bill C-54 should incorporate specific rules relating to health information and CMA’s Code should form the basis of these rules. CMA recommends: That Bill C-54 be amended to incorporate specific provisions relating to health information and that the provisions of the CMA Code provide the basis of such provisions. In addition, CMA’s Code provides a test that legislation addressing health information should be subjected to. This test (found in section 3.6 of the CMA Code) states: Any proposed or existing legislation or regulation made under legislative authority that permits or requires health information collection, use, disclosure or access shall be subjected to the following legislative test: (a) There must be demonstration that: (i) a patient privacy impact assessment has been conducted, the analysis has been made public and has been duly considered prior to the introduction of legislation [section 3.5 of the Code provides guidance with respect to the patient privacy impact assessment]; (ii) collection, use, disclosure and access will be limited to the greatest degree possible to ensure that * the collection of health information by persons external to the therapeutic context will neither trade on nor compromise the trust of the patient-physician relationship; * patients are not likely to be inhibited from confiding information for primary purposes; * the ability of physicians to discharge their fiduciary duties to patients will not be compromised; and, * patient vulnerability will not be exploited; (iii) collection, use, disclosure and access will be restricted to what is necessary for the identified purpose(s) and will not impede the confiding or collection of information for primary purposes; (iv) provisions exist for ensuring that patients are provided with knowledge about the purpose(s) and that, subject to 3.6(b), patient consent is clearly voluntary; (v) the means used are proportionate and the collection will be limited to purposes consented to or made known to the patient; (vi) the patient’s privacy will be intruded upon to the most limited degree possible in light of the purpose(s) consented to or made known to the patient; (vii) linkage of the health information will be limited; and (viii) unless clear and compelling reasons exist: * all reasonable steps will be taken to make health information anonymous; and * if it has been demonstrated that making health information anonymous would render it inadequate for legitimate uses, the information will be collected and stored in a deidentified-relinkable format. (b) When nonconsensual collection, use, disclosure or access is permitted or required by legislation or regulation that meets the requirements of the Code, the following conditions must also be met: (i) the right of privacy has to be violated because the purpose(s) could not be met adequately if patient consent is required; and (ii) the importance of the purpose(s) must be demonstrated to justify the infringement of the patient’s right of privacy in a free and democratic society. (c) Any legislative provision or regulation that permits or requires health information collection, use, disclosure or access nonconsensually shall not, without compelling reasons, be applied retroactively to existing health information. In its current form, Bill C-54 would not pass the scrutiny of the test. Consequently, CMA recommends: That the proposed rules for health legislation be subject to the legislative test found in CMA’s Code and formulated in light of this process. IV. Specific Comments on Bill C-54 From the Perspective of CMA’s Health Information Privacy Code This section highlights some key distinctions between the approach taken by Bill C-54 and CMA’s Health Information Privacy Code. The purpose of this section is to illustrate through examples the divergence of approaches taken with the ultimate aim of demonstrating that Bill C-54 is inadequate in the protection it accords health information. A. General Bill C-54 and CMA’s Health Information Privacy Code are based on the Canadian Standards Association’s Model Code for the Protection of Personal Information (CSA Code). Bill C-54 and the CMA Code also augment the CSA Code’s provisions where considered necessary. The need to extend the provisions of the CSA Code demonstrates that the CSA Code, being general in nature, provides inadequate protection to information in many instances. Although Bill C-54 and the CMA Code are based on the CSA Code, each takes a different approach to the ultimate protection accorded information. This divergence demonstrates that there are many ways to resolve issues left unresolved by the CSA Code. In other words, it is not a foregone conclusion that basing provisions on the CSA Code will result in appropriate or adequate protection of information. Rather, resolution of issues requires thought and deliberation and will depend in some measure on the primacy given to certain values. Bill C-54 appears to have given access primacy in the pursuit of commerce, whereas CMA gives privacy protection primacy in the pursuit of the provision of health care in accordance with physicians fiduciary obligations to patients and the integrity of the patient-physical relationship. CMA did not develop its approach in a vacuum. It reviewed and was inspired by the report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Rights and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, entitled Privacy: Where Do We Draw the Line? This report articulates and makes explicit many of the issues that should be informing the current debate on Bill C-54. In addition, the Report of the Advisory Council takes a very different approach to Bill C-54. The Report recognizes the need to pay more than lip service to protecting privacy and confidentiality and recommends specific measures aimed at doing this. B. Information Protected Bill C-54 The Bill covers “personal information” which is defined to mean “information about an identifiable individual that is recorded in any form.” This definition raises a host of questions: 1. Does the Bill cover or not information that has been delinked to an identifiable individual but that could be relinked to identify them? 2. Does the Bill only exclude anonymous information - that is, information that could never be relinked to an indentifiable individual? And if so, is there an unjustified assumption that information can, in all cases, be rendered truly anonymous? 3. In the case of delinked and anonymous information, who decides that information about an identifiable individual can be rendered delinked or anonymous? The holder of the information or the person to whom the information pertains? 4. Is it accurate or reasonable to assume that people have no interest in information emanating from them once it has been rendered delinked or anonymous? CMA Health Information Privacy Code The CMA Code provides a broad definition of health information: Health information means any information about a patient that is confided or collected in the therapeutic context, including information created or generated from this information and information that is not directly or indirectly linked to the provision of health care. It includes all information formats. In addition, the CMA Code covers identifiable information, delinked information, anonymous information and any composite form that is produced when health information is linked to other information about the patient. CMA’s research indicates that patients may have an interest in their information when it is in delinked and anonymous formats. Advisory Council Report The Advisory Council Report addresses this issue in a number of ways. In making recommendations concerning the definition of health information the Report calls for legislation that embodies: a clear definition of health information, broad enough to incorporate health information collected in public and private systems and to ensure that equal obligations and penalties apply to both public and private sectors. The report recognizes a spectrum of data formats: completely anonymous, linked to pseudo-identities, code linked and reidentifiable, completely identifiable. In terms of sensitivity, the Report notes that information that can be re-identified is somewhat more sensitive that completely anonymous data or anonymous data linked to pseudo-identities and that completely identifiable health information is the most sensitive type of health information. The Report also notes that there can be some degree of risk of re-identification of what was believed to be anonymous data through such processes as data matching and the results of analysis using small cells. In this light, the Report recommends: A definition of personal health information, which takes into account the spectrum of potential identifiability in the case of health information. Furthermore, in the case of secondary uses of health information, the Report notes that provisions regulating secondary uses of non-identifiable health information must form part of the legislation. Such provisions should address privacy concerns surrounding the degree to which data might be linked back to an identifiable individual. The Report raises further issues relating to the use of delinked and anonymous data. The Report notes that there may be group interests and concerns regarding data collected and states: Privacy can also be a concern for groups such as Aboriginal and immigrant communities. These communities worry that research on their members could be released to the media without notice and used in a negative way. This emerging issue is growing in importance and, in the Council’s view, should be a serious consideration in the context of ethical reviews of proposed research projects. It is important to note that in these instances it is not the fact that data is linked to an identifiable individual that is of concern. Rather, it is the ability to accumulate, process and dissect information that has ramifications for an individual because they are part of a group segregated and identified by the research. Finally, the Report considers the use of person-based data but not people’s names, for statistical purposes and notes that this too raises concerns about privacy. The Report notes that: “These concerns have traditionally been seen as a tradeoff against data access for research and analysis in the public interest.” The Report restates this to provide a more positive view of privacy and states: “the best way for analysts to maintain the public’s consent to use sensitive (but anonymous) health data is to show the public that privacy, confidentiality and security are being taken seriously.” Recommendation That there be a clear definition of the information being accorded a right of privacy and that this definition, at least in the case of health information, include identifiable information, delinked information, anonymous information and any composite form produced when information is linked to any information about a person from any other source. C. Knowledge of Purpose Prior to Collection Bill C-54 Bill C-54 is ambiguous in its provisions relating to whether or not a person should know the purposes for which information will be used prior to disclosure. This is due in part to the use of the term “knowledge and consent” as one concept rather than distinguishing the knowledge requirement from the consent requirement. What a person should know in relation to the purposes information might be used or disclosed for, prior to its being given is distinct conceptually from whether the person must consent before information can be used or disclosed for a particular purpose. Schedule 1 of the Bill contains a number of principles. For the purposes of this brief the schedule will be referred to in terms of the principles (and their subparagraphs). Principle 2 addresses the identification of purposes that information will be used or disclosed for. Provided a purpose is identified it becomes a legitimate purpose under the Bill. Subparagraph 3 states that the identified purposes should be specified at or before the time of collection. Section 5(2) of the Bill states that the use of ‘should’ in schedule 1 indicates a recommendation and does not impose an obligation. Therefore, according to subparagraph 3, it is recommended but is not obligatory that disclosure occur. On the other hand, principle 3 addresses consent and appears to impose an obligation by stating that the knowledge and consent of the individual are required for the collection, use, or disclosure of personal information, except where inappropriate. Similarly subparagraph 2 appears to create something of an obligation by stating, “organizations shall make a reasonable effort to ensure that the individual is advised of the purposes for which the information will be used.” The relationship between these sections should be clarified and made consistent. CMA is pleased to note that principle 3 has been modified to define when, and only when, organizations may collect information without knowledge or consent. Section 7(1)(a) permits the collection of information without knowledge and consent when collection is clearly in the interests of the individual and consent cannot be obtained. The intent of this section could be made clearer, particularly in terms of who determines the “interests of the individual.” Otherwise this exception could give undesirable license to collect without knowledge or consent. The provision in section 7(1)(b) is more problematic. This section appears to favour withholding knowledge from an individual if such knowledge would compromise accuracy, defeat the purpose for collection or prejudice the use. In some instances it may well be that if an individual is provided with knowledge of the purposes for which information is collected and the uses to which it will be put, they may choose to withhold information rather than disclose it, and in doing so would clearly compromise accuracy, defeat the purpose for collection or prejudice the use the information will be put to. This is contrary to the principle found in principle 4.1 which recognizes that information should not be collected by misleading or deceiving individuals. The intent of this section should be far clearer and circumscribed in such a way as to make it clear that it is not permissible to withhold knowledge or not seek consent simply on the basis that if a person had knowledge they would not wish to disclose information. Section 7(1)(c) allows collection without knowledge or consent for journalistic, artistic or literary purposes. This provision is totally inappropriate in the case of health information. CMA Health Information Privacy Code The CMA Code is considerably more restrictive that Bill C-54. It recognizes that in the therapeutic context, health information is confided by or collected from patients under the patient presumption that it is necessary to meet his or her therapeutic needs. CMA also believes that the potential that health information may be subsequently collected, used, disclosed or accessed for other purposes without patient consent should be made known to patients before information is confided or collected for the primary therapeutic purpose. CMA further notes that it is not acceptable to withhold knowledge from patients deliberately out of concern that knowledge could inhibit them from confiding important information fully and truthfully. CMA limits the circumstances the nonconsensual collection of health information to those: 1. Permitted or required by legislation; 2. When ordered or decided by a court of law. Moreover, the CMA gives explicit direction to legislators with respect to the conditions under which legislation should permit or require health information collection (see section 3.6 of CMA Code). In the case of nonconsensual collection, the following conditions are stipulated: 1. The right of privacy has to be violated because the purposes could not be met adequately if patient consent is required; and 2. The importance of the purposes must be demonstrated to justify the infringement of the patient’s right of privacy in a free and democratic society. While Bill C-54 is clearly enabling the collection of information, it does not, in CMA’s opinion put sufficient emphasis on or provide protections that preserve privacy and confidentiality, especially in the medical context. D. Use Without Knowledge Or Consent Bill C-54 Once information has been collected and despite the, albeit inadequate, limits placed on collection without knowledge or consent, it can be put to even greater use than the purposes it has been collected for with or without knowledge or consent. Section 7(2) opens up dramatically the uses to which collected information may be put without either knowledge or consent. At a minimum and without little additional administrative effort, the enumerated grounds of section 7(2) (and 7(3))should be made known to an individual prior to their disclosure of information, which would be in keeping with the principle of openness and explicitness. Section 7(2)(a) allows use in connection with the investigation of an offence. In the medical context this might be problematic particularly if it is interpreted to impose an obligation. Generally, there is no obligation to assist in the investigation of an offence and indeed the fiduciary duty between patient and physician and the duty of confidentiality owed to the patient by the physician would suggest that physicians not offer information despite its usefulness. Section 7(2)(b) recognizes emergency situations. However, as worded, section 7(2)(b) would allow access to anyone’s information if it is for the purpose of acting in respect of an emergency threatening the life, health or security of an individual. The implications of this section should be carefully thought through. Do we really intend to give such a broad licence to access anyone’s information on the basis of an emergency. In CMA’s view there should be some limiting principle that takes into account the prevailing view that people generally are not required to go to the assistance of others (emergency or otherwise) and that information about oneself is considered worthy of protection against use or disclosure despite its potential benefit to others for example, genetic information or HIV, Hepatitis C status. Section 7(2)(c) is very problematic as it permits the use of “identifiable” information for a host of purposes, including statistical and research, when it is impractical to seek consent. Even though the Commissioner must be informed of the use before the information is used the Commissioner has no power to approve or reject the use, and since the use is legitimate under the Bill provided the Commissioner has been notified there would be no grounds open to the Commissioner to cause an audit to occur. This section gives significant scope to use information that has been collected without knowledge or consent and certainly in the case of health information is problematic. CMA Health Information Privacy Code The CMA Code makes a clear distinction between the primary purpose for the collection and use of health information and secondary purposes for its use. The key distinction between these two categories is that primary purposes relates to the provision of the health care benefit sought whereas secondary purposes are ends or aims that are not directly related to the provision of care. The CMA Code divides secondary purposes into two categories: 1. Secondary legislated purposes, those purposes that have been subjected to the legislative test specified in the Code and have subsequently been written into law; 2. Secondary nonlegislated purposes are any other purposes, such as education or research not governed by legislation, that meet the provisions of the CMA Code and the secondary nonlegislative test provided by the Code. The tests that CMA requires both to go through relate to: 1. Impact on privacy. 2. Impact on the patient-physician relationship, especially confidentiality and trust. 3. Impact on the willingness of patients to disclose information. 4. Impact on patients’ ability to receive care. 5. Evidence of broad public support for the measure. 6. The use will not exploit or compromise the trust of the patient-physician relationship. 7. Patient vulnerability will not be exploited. 8. Under most circumstances patients will be fully informed of the purpose and patient consent will be clearly voluntary. 9. Patient privacy will be intruded upon to the most limited degree possible. 10. Linkage of health information will be restricted and consented to by patients. In other words, CMA is not satisfied that any and all secondary purposes for the use of health information should be permitted. Rather, CMA seeks justification for the secondary use and assurance that the secondary use will neither impede nor undermine the patient-physician relationship and the provision of health care to the patient. Moreover, the CMA Code only permits use without consent if it is permitted or required by legislation or when ordered or decided by a court of law. The Advisory Council Report Like CMA, the Advisory Council Report makes distinctions among various types of uses. The report calls for legislation to clearly prohibit all secondary commercial use of personal health information. In addition, the Report recommends that there be provisions regulating secondary uses of non-identifiable health information and that such provisions should address privacy concerns surrounding the degree to which such data might be linked back to an identifiable individual. In this context, the Report recommends that legislation set clear limits on access to and use of health information by third parties outside the health care system. In addition the Report reviews the uses of health information for statistical and research purposes. The Report’s findings with respect to statistical use have already been discussed. In connection with research, the Report calls for a number of safeguards and restrictions: 1. Where the data sets used have a higher level of potential identifiability, “the general rule should be informed consent and stringent assurances about privacy protection and security arrangements are necessary before a researcher can have access to personally identifiable information.” 2. The Report recognizes that in some instances it may be impractical to obtain consent from patients. Whether in anonymous or identifiable form the Report requires that notice be given about the use of the information in either form. In the case of the use of identifiable information, the Report states that the research should be subject to independent ethics review with the onus on the person seeking to use the information without consent to demonstrate that: (a) a tangible public good of significant benefit will result; (b) consent is impossible to secure at a reasonable cost; (c) less identifiable data will not serve the same purpose; and (d) no harm can occur to any person directly or indirectly [note the above discussion on group privacy] as a result of this use of his or her personal information. E. Disclosure Without Knowledge Or Consent Bill C-54 The comments found under C. and D. above apply equally here. Section 7(3) adds further instances when collected information can be disclosed to others without knowledge or consent. CMA Code In the case of health information CMA takes a far more restrictive approach. In the case of use, disclosure or access the CMA Code states: The potential that health information, in whole or in part, may be subsequently collected, used, disclosed or accessed for other purposes without their consent, and what those purposes might be, must be made know to the patient by reasonable means before it is confided or collected for primary purposes. Moreover, the CMA Code recognizes that information disclosed by one organization is collected by another. The Code defines collection to mean: the act of accessing, receiving, compiling, gathering, acquiring or obtaining health information from any source, including third parties, and by any means. It includes information collected from the patient, as well as secondary collection of this information in whole or in part by another provider or user. The collecting organization should be bound by the provisions of the CMA Code, which generally requires consent for use for any purpose and always requires knowledge of the potential purposes that information will or must be put to prior to the information being disclosed. CMA’s Code states: Health information custodians must ensure that third parties privy to health information have adopted this Code or are bound by equivalent provisions. Finally, the CMA Code explicitly recognizes that information can be retrieved from a variety of sources to formulate records. Any and all such practices and the composite form developed are given the same degree of protection as that accorded the original data collected by or through the patient. F. Information Flow Within Organizations Bill C-54 Bill C-54 defines use to include, “the transfer of personal information within an organization.” Therefore, to the extent that Bill C-54 restricts the free flow of information it restricts in within an organization. In the health care context this is not a reasonable or desirable outcome. CMA Code The CMA Code recognizes that the free flow of health information is desirable to the extent that it furthers the provision of the health care benefit sought and that it occurs with patient consent. The CMA Code defines the primary purpose to mean: (i) Primary therapeutic purpose is the initial reason for a patient seeking or receiving care in the therapeutic context, and pertains to the delivery of health care to a particular patient with respect to the presenting health need or problem. It encompasses consultation with and referral to other providers on a need-to-know basis. (ii) Primary longitudinal purpose concerns developing composite health information about a particular patient, such as a detailed medical history, beyond direct application to the presenting health need or problem, in order to enhance ongoing care to that person. The Code goes on to state that: Health information collection, use, disclosure or access for the primary therapeutic and longitudinal purposes may be as extensive as necessary to fulfil these purposes and reflect the high level of trustworthiness and accountability of health professionals in the therapeutic context. And further states that: Security safeguards shall impede as little as possible health information collection, use, access and disclosure for primary purposes. Finally, in addressing consent the Code states: Consent to health information collection, use, disclosure and access for the primary therapeutic purpose may be inferred. Consent to subsequent collection, use, disclosure and access on a need-to-know basis by or to other physicians or health providers for this purpose, and for this purpose alone, may be inferred, as long as there is no evidence that the patient would not give express consent to share the information. G. Individual Access Bill C-54 Bill C-54 restricts the right of individual access to personal information. The grounds for denying access to information are inappropriate in the health care context. CMA Code The CMA Code follows the prevailing case law as it relates to medical records. Primarily this gives the patients a right of access to their record in all but very limited circumstances. These circumstances are, if there is a significant likelihood of a substantial adverse effect on the physical, mental or emotional health of the patient or substantial harm to a third party. The onus lies on the provider to justify denial of access. H. Accuracy and Amendment Bill C-54 Bill C-54 requires that information be as accurate, complete and up-to-date as possible and that it shall not be routinely updated unless this is necessary to fulfil the purpose for its collection. In so far as amendment is concerned, Bill C-54 permits amendment to the record in specified circumstances. CMA Code The CMA Code takes a different approach in light of the nature and purpose of health information. The Code recognizes that the “recording of statements of fact, clinical judgements and determinations or assessments should reflect as nearly as possible what has been confided by the patient and what has been ascertained, hypothesized or determined to be true using professional judgement.” In terms of amending the record in light of a patient’s request, the CMA Code seeks to preserve the original record but also note the patient’s concerns. To accommodate both requirements the CMA Code states: Patients who have reviewed their information and believe it to be inaccurately recorded or false have the right to suggest amendments and to have their amendments appended to the health information. I. Sensitivity Bill C-54 In a number of instances Bill C-54 and in particular schedule 1 recognize that medical records have a high level of sensitivity attached. Which in turns warrants special attention concerning consent, reasonable expectations, individual access and implicity, the degree of security that is appropriate. CMA Code The CMA Code seeks to recognize that while all health information is sensitive (when considered against other forms of information about individuals) there are also variations in the level of sensitivity in various aspects of the health record. The CMA Code defines the “sensitivity of health information” to refer to: the patient’s interest in keeping the information secret. It varies according to the nature of the information, its form, and the potential negative repercussions of its collection, use or disclosure on the patient’s interests. Under the Code’s consent provisions it is stated that: Although all health information is sensitive and should be treated as such, the more sensitive the health information is likely to be, given what is known about the circumstances or preferences of the patient, the more important it is to ensure that consent is voluntary and informed. With respect to security the Code states: The development of security safeguards with respect to levels of access for various users shall recognize the differences in the sensitivity of health information and permit access accordingly. V. Conclusions The increased capacity to collect, store, transfer, merge and access information coupled with trends that support increased use of and access to information have the potential to erode our traditional understanding and protection of privacy and confidentiality. The issues are complex and the choices we must make are difficult. Nevertheless, these issues should be squarely on the table and the choices that we make must be clear, transparent and defensible. Of paramount importance is that the public is not mislead into believing that their information is being protected or kept confidential when in fact it is not. Therefore, even to refer to Bill C-54 as the “Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act” should be the subject of debate. Is the Bill truly about information protection or is it actually about permitting access to information? Bill C-54 presents one approach, an approach that values commerce and access. In CMA’s view the approach is totally inadequate when applied to health information. CMA also believes that the public would also find Bill C-54 inadequate. CMA presents a different approach, an approach that values privacy and the preservation of the trust and integrity of the patient-physician relationship. CMA believes that its approach would receive broad public support. Moreover, CMA believes that to the extent the CMA Code presents tests rather than conclusions, these tests should be administered in good faith prior to legislative initiatives related to health information or in the case of secondary usage of health information in general. CMA believes that its approach draws support from the Federal Advisory Council Report, which also recognizes the importance of preserving patient privacy and the confidentiality of the health record in an era of increased use of technology. Implicitly, the Report recognizes that the benefits of such technology cannot be realized if public support, based on assurance of privacy protection, cannot be secured. CMA urges this committee to implement CMA’s recommendations and in doing so provide the type of protection that health information deserves and that Canadians desire. VI. Summary of Recommendations That Bill C-54 be amended to incorporate specific provisions relating to health information and that the provisions of the CMA Code provide the basis of such provisions; and That the proposed rules for health legislation be subject to the legislative test found in CMA’s Code and formulated in light of this process; and That there be a clear definition of the information being accorded a right of privacy and that this definition, at least in the case of health information, include identifiable information, delinked information, anonymous information and any composite form produced when information is linked to any information about a person from any other source; and That, at least in connection with health information, the provisions of the Bill apply equally to the public and the private sectors.
Documents
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A new vision for Canada: family practice— the patient’s medical home 2019

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy14024
Date
2019-03-02
Topics
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Health systems, system funding and performance
  1 document  
Policy Type
Policy endorsement
Date
2019-03-02
Topics
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Health systems, system funding and performance
Text
The evolving needs of patients and their communities place ever-changing demands on the health care system to maintain and improve the quality of services provided. Changing population demographics, increasing complexity, and new technology make for a dynamic system. Family physicians are at the heart of the health care system, acting as the first point of contact and a reliable medical resource to the communities they serve, caring for patients and supporting them throughout all interactions with the health care system. The Patient’s Medical Home (PMH) is a vision that emphasizes the role of the family practice and family physicians in providing high-quality, compassionate, and timely care. The success of a PMH depends on collaboration and teamwork—from the patient’s participation in their care to interprofessional and intraprofessional care providers working together, to policy-makers who can offer infrastructure support and funding. PMH 2019 was created with invaluable feedback from a broad range of stakeholders reflective of such a joint approach. Its goal is to make the PMH a reality for patients and providers across Canada. In 2011 the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) released A Vision for Canada: Family Practice - The Patient’s Medical Home.1 It outlined a vision for the future of primary care by transforming the health care system to better meet the needs of everyone living in Canada. The vision outlined the 10 pillars that make up the PMH and provided detailed recommendations to assist family physicians and their teams, as well as policy-makers and health care system administrators, to implement this new model across the country. WHY A REVISED PMH? Since 2011 many principles of the PMH vision have been embraced in primary care reforms. New models have been introduced across Canada (see Progress on the PMH to Date). To better reflect current realties, meet the evolving needs of family physicians and their teams, and support continued implementation of the PMH, the CFPC has developed this revised edition of the vision. It reflects evolving realities of primary care in Canada, including the rapid adoption of electronic medical records (EMRs)2,3 and a shift toward interprofessional practice structures.2 While progress has been made, there is still work to be done to fully achieve the PMH vision. In 2016 almost 75 per cent of Canadians rated the quality of care received from their family physicians as good or excellent.4 In 2017 a CFPC survey found that 79 per cent of respondents rate the care they receive from their family doctor as excellent or good.5 However, at the same time 55 per cent of Canadians also believed that the overall health care system still required fundamental changes.4 In addition, Canada continues to perform below the international average on certain aspects of patient-centred care; for example, same- or next-day access to appointments. While most Canadians (84.7 per cent) have a regular doctor or place of care, they generally report longer wait times for medical care than adults in comparable countries.4 PMH 2019 addresses these concerns and proposes solutions that can help further improve the primary care system for all. Although the specific components of the revised PMH have been updated (see What is the Patient’s Medical Home?), the core principles remain the same. PMH 2019 focuses on providing high-quality, patient-centred, and comprehensive care to patients and their families during their lifetime. It embraces the critical role that family physicians and family practices play in the health care system, reflecting the fact that systems with strong primary health care deliver better health outcomes, enhance efficiency, and improve quality of care.6 PMH 2019 recognizes that a patient will not be able to see their personal family physician at every visit, but can rely on the PMH’s qualified team of health professionals to provide the most appropriate care responding to patient needs with continuous support and leadership from family physicians. PMH 2019 highlights the central importance of community adaptiveness and social accountability in primary care with a new pillar. The importance of being responsive to community needs through engagement, and ensuring the provision of equitable, culturally safe, antioppressive practise that seeks to assess and intervene into social determinants of health (SDoH), is now more clearly featured. 2 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 PURPOSE OF THIS DOCUMENT PMH 2019 outlines 10 revised pillars that make up a PMH. Key attributes are defined and explained for each pillar. Supporting research is provided to demonstrate the evidence base for each attribute. This document is intended to support family physicians currently working in a PMH to better align their practice with the PMH pillars, or assist those practices looking to transition to a PMH. Furthermore, this document can guide governments, policy-makers, other health care professionals, and patients on how to structure a primary health care system that is best-suited to meet the needs of Canadians. Many resources for the PMH have been developed and will continue to be available. These include practical Best Advice guides on a range of topics and the self-assessment tool that can help quantify a practice’s progress toward PMH alignment. Moving forward, additional materials that address the new themes identified in PMH 2019 and the tools to support physicians in the transition to PMH structures—for example the PMH Implementation Kit— will be available at patientsmedicalhome.ca. What is a Patient’s Medical Home? The PMH is a family practice defined by its patients as the place they feel most comfortable presenting and discussing their personal and family health and medical concerns. The PMH can be broken down into three themes: Foundations, Functions, and Ongoing Development (see Table 1 and Figure 1). The three Foundation pillars are the supporting structures that facilitate the care provided by the PMH. All three aspects are required for the successful implementation and sustainability of a PMH. The Functions are areas central to the operation of a family practice and consist of the five core PMH pillars. These principles govern the type of care provided by the PMH practices to ensure it is effective and efficient for meeting the needs of the patients, families, and communities they serve. The pillars in this section reflect the Four Principles of Family Medicine,7 which underlines the important place they take in the overall PMH 2019. The pillars in Ongoing Development are essential to advancing the PMH vision. These areas make it possible for physicians to provide the best possible care for patients in various settings. Applying these pillars, the PMH will thrive through practising quality improvement (QI) principles to achieve the results necessary to meet the needs of their patients, their communities, and the broader health care community, now and in the future. The PMH is a vision to which every practice can aspire. Many practices across Canada have already begun transitioning to a PMH, thanks to the dedication and leadership of family physicians and their teams across Table 1. 10 Pillars of the revised PMH vision THEME PILLAR Foundations 1. Administration and Funding 2. Appropriate Infrastructure 3. Connected Care Functions 4. Accessible Care 5. Community Adaptiveness and Social Accountability 6. Comprehensive Team-Based Care with Family Physician Leadership 7. Continuity of Care 8. Patient- and Family-Partnered Care Ongoing Development 9. Measurement, Continuous Quality Improvement, and Research 10. Training, Education, and Continuing Professional Development A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 3 the country. This vision is a resource for these practices as they engage in ongoing practice assessment and QI initiatives. It can also assist other stakeholders, including government planners, policy-makers, and funders to better understand what defines an effective patientcentred family practice. By involving patients in all stages of the development, evaluation, and continuous quality improvement (CQI) activities of the practice, the PMH can contribute significantly to furthering the goals of transformation to a patient-centred health care system.8 What the Patient’s Medical Home is Not While it is important to understand what the PMH aspires to be, it is also important to highlight that it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Solo practices in rural or remote settings or large group practices serving inner-city populations can align with PMH principles by incorporating strategies that match the realities of their unique settings. In fact, social accountability and community adaptiveness is an important new addition to the revised PMH vision to account for the need of every family practice to adapt and respond to the needs of their patients and communities. What works for one practice will not work for all. The PMH vision does not require that all practices be relocated or re-engineered, or that significant financial investments be made by physicians or other health care professionals. Instead, system level support and involvement is required to achieve the vision. The pillars and attributes listed in this document are signposts along the way to reform that aids practices on their journey. It is important to note that this vision is not intended to undermine or change any exciting initiatives involving family practice currently under way across Canada (several of which already embrace and incorporate the medical home concept; see Progress on the PMH to Date). Rather, it is meant to build on and strengthen these efforts. The more that health care initiatives meet PMH objectives, the more likely it is that the overall goals of creating a patient-centred health care system throughout Canada will be realized. Figure 1. The Patient’s Medical Home 4 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 PROGRESS ON THE PMH TO DATE Since the release of the original PMH vision document, system-level change has occurred in almost all jurisdictions in Canada. More specifically, PMH-type practices are gaining traction in various provinces and currently exist in various stages of development. The CFPC took a snapshot of PMH uptake in all provinces in the PMH Provincial Report Card, published in early 2019.9 That report contains grades and descriptions for progress in each province up to late 2018, which acts as a useful gauge for where the vision stands at the time of publication of this new edition. Alberta In Alberta, primary care networks (PCNs)10 were established to link groups of family physicians and other health care professionals. Within PCNs clinicians work together to provide care specific to community and population health care needs. Currently, there are 42 PCNs operating in Alberta, comprised of more than 3,700 (or 80 per cent of) family physicians, and over 1,100 other health care practitioners. PCNs provide care to close to 3.6 million Albertans, 80 per cent of the population in Alberta. Primary care clinics are being asked to collect data for Third Next Available (TNA) appointments to improve access for Albertans.11 TNA measures the delay patients experience in accessing their providers for a scheduled appointment. TNA is considered a more accurate system measure of access than the “next available” appointment, since the next or second next available appointment may have become available due to a cancellation or other event that is not predictable or reliable. British Columbia The British Columbia government’s new primary care strategy focuses on expanding access to team-based care through PCNs.12 PCNs are in the initial stages of adoption and when fully rolled out will provide a systemlevel change—working to connect various providers to improve access to, and quality of, care. They will allow patients to access the full range of health care options, streamline referrals, and provide better support to family physicians, nurse practitioners, and other primary health care providers. The General Practice Services Committee13 (GPSC; a partnership of the provincial government and Doctors of BC) specifically references and builds on the PMH concept in their vision for the future of British Columbia’s health care system. Manitoba In Manitoba, PMHs are Home Clinics and PCNs are My Health Teams. My Health Teams bring together teams of health care providers (physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, etc.) to collaborate in providing highquality care based on community and patient needs.14 As suggested by the name of the initiative itself, the goal is to improve health care by developing teams of health care professionals who will work together to address primary health care needs of Manitobans.15 The first two My Health Teams were established in 2014, and there are now 15 across the province.16 The Manitoba Centre for Health Policy did some work assessing the impact of My Health Teams. New Brunswick In 2017 the government announced the New Brunswick Family Plan, which placed a specific emphasis on access to team-based care. To achieve this goal, the provincial government and the New Brunswick Medical Society established a voluntary program called Family Medicine New Brunswick. In this team-based model, physicians have their own rosters of patients, but also provide a service to all patients of doctors on their team.17 It was announced in 2018 that 25 family physicians will be added to the provincial health care system to ensure more New Brunswick residents have access to a primary care physician and to help reduce wait times.18 Newfoundland and Labrador In 2015 the Newfoundland and Labrador government released Healthy People, Healthy Families, Healthy Communities: A primary health care framework for Newfoundland and Labrador. The strategy’s goals include ensuring “timely access to comprehensive, person-focused primary health care services and supports,” and “primary health care reform should work to establish teams of providers that facilitate access to a range of health and social services tailored to meet A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 5 the needs of the communities they serve.”19 Both goals align with the general PMH principles. Primary health care teams have been introduced in St. John’s and are planned for Corner Brook and Burin.20 Many initiatives under way as a part of this strategy are in the early stages of development. Continuing in the direction laid out will move Newfoundland and Labrador closer to integrating the PMH vision in their delivery of primary health care. Northwest Territories The recent creation of a single Territorial Health Authority has enabled work on primary care improvements across the Northwest Territories. In August 2018 the NWT Health and Social Services Leadership Council unanimously voted in favour of a resolution supporting redesigning the health care system toward a team- and relationshipbased approach, consistent with PMH values. In several regions, contracted physicians are already assigned to regularly visit remote communities and work closely with local staff to provide continuity of remote support between visits. Planning is under way for implementing PMH-based multidisciplinary care teams in several larger regional centres, with enhanced continuity and access to physician and nursing staff as well as co-located mental health support and other health care disciplines. This work is facilitated by a territory-wide EMR and increased use of telehealth and other modalities of virtual care. Nova Scotia The 2017 Strengthening the Primary Health Care System in Nova Scotia report recommended establishing “health homes,” consisting of interprofessional, collaborative family practice teams. The model is based on a population health approach that focuses on wellness and chronic disease management/prevention and incorporates comprehensive, team-based care. There are approximately 50 collaborative family practice21 teams and a number of primary care teams across Nova Scotia. Ontario The model most aligned with the PMH framework is the family health team (FHT).22 FHTs are comprised of family physicians, nurse practitioners, and other health care professionals, and provide community-centred primary care programs and services. The 184 FHTs collectively serve over three million enrolled Ontarians. Based on the results of a five-year evaluation undertaken by the Conference Board of Canada in 2014, FHTs have achieved improvements at the organizational and service-delivery levels.23 Much progress has also been made through patient enrolment models. Patient enrolment, or rostering, is a process in which patients are formally registered with a primary care provider or team. Patient enrolment facilitates accountability by defining the population for which the provider is responsible. Formal patient enrolment with a primary care physician lays the foundation for a proactive approach to chronic disease management and preventive care.24 Studies show that the models have achieved some degree of success in enhancing health system efficiency in Ontario through the reducing use of emergency departments for non-emergent care.25 Prince Edward Island In Prince Edward Island, primary care is provided through five PCNs.26 Each network consists of a team that includes family physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, diabetes educators, licensed practical nurses, clerical staff, and in some cases dietitians and mental health workers. They offer a broad range of health services including diagnosis, treatment, education, disease prevention, and screening. Quebec The Groupes de médecine de famille27 (GMF) is the team-based care model in Quebec most closely aligned with the PMH. GMF ranking (obligations, financial, and professional supports) is based on weighted patient rostering. One GMF may serve from 6,000 to more than 30,000 patients. The resource allocation (financial and health care professionals) depends on the weighted patient target under which the GMF falls. In a GMF, each doctor takes care of their own registered patients, but all physicians in the GMF can access medical records of all patients. GMFs provide team-based care with physicians, nurses, social workers, and other health care professionals working collaboratively to provide appropriate health care based on community needs. Saskatchewan Saskatchewan has made investments in a Connected Care Strategy, which focuses on a team approach to care that includes the patient and family, and extends from the community to the hospital and back again. It is about connecting teams and providing seamless care for people who have multiple, ongoing health care needs, with a particular focus on care in the community.28 6 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 FOUNDATIONS PMH foundations are the underlying, supporting structures that enable a practice to exist, and facilitate providing each PMH function. Without a strong foundation, the PMH cannot successfully provide high-quality, patient-centred care. The foundations are Administration and Funding (includes financial and governmental support and strong governance, leadership, and management), Appropriate Infrastructure (includes physical space, human resources, and electronic records and other digital supports), and Connected Care (practice integration with other care settings enabled by health IT). ADMINISTRATION & FUNDING PAGE 7 APPROPRIATE INFRASTRUCTURE PAGE 9 CONNECTED CARE PAGE 12 Patients as partners in health care Patient-centred or patient-partnered? Understanding and acknowledging patients as full partners in their own care is a small but powerful change in terminology. Considering and respecting patients as partners allows health care providers to better recognize and include the skills and experience each patient brings to the table. Patient perspectives and feedback can be more inclusively incorporated in the QI processes in place to improve care delivery. Understanding the nature of patient partnerships can help physicians better establish trusting relationships with those in their care.29 Pillar 1: Administration and Funding Practice governance and management Effective practice governance is essential to ensuring an integrated process of planning, coordinating, implementing, and evaluating.30 Every PMH should clearly define its governance and administrative structure and functions, and identify staff responsible for each function. While the complexity of these systems varies depending on the practice size, the number of members on the health care professional team, and the needs of the population being served, every PMH should have an organizational plan in place that helps guide the practice operations. From a governance perspective, policies and procedures should be developed and regularly reviewed and updated, especially in larger practices. These policies and procedures will offer guidance in areas such as organization of clinical services, appointment and booking systems, information management, facilities, equipment and supplies, human resources, defining PMH team members’ clinical and administrative/management roles and responsibilities, budget and finances, legal and liability issues, patient and provider safety, and CQI. In some cases, standardized defaults for these may be available based on the province of practice and existing structures supporting interprofessional teams. Structures and systems need to be in place that allow for compensated time for providers to undertake and actively participate in CQI activities. This needs to be scheduled and remunerated so that it is seen as being as important and critical as clinical time. To ensure that all PMH team members have the capacity to take on their required roles, leadership development programs should be offered. Enabling physicians to engage in this necessary professional development requires sufficient government funding to cover training A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 7 Practices need staff and financial support, advocacy, governance, leadership, and management in order to function as part of the community and deliver exceptional care. 1.1 Governance, administrative, and management roles and responsibilities are clearly defined and supported in each PMH. 1.2 Sufficient system funding is available to support PMHs, including the clinical, teaching, research, and administrative roles of all members of PMH teams. 1.3 Blended remuneration models that best support team-based, patient-partnered care in a PMH should be considered to incentivize the desired approach. 1.4 Future federal/provincial/territorial health care funding agreements provide appropriate funding mechanisms that support PMH priorities, including preventive care, population health, electronic records, community-based care, and access to medications, social services, and appropriate specialist and acute care. 8 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 costs and financial support to ensure lost income is not a barrier (see Pillar 10: Training, Education, and Continuing Professional Development). External supports Every family practice in Canada can become a PMH and an optimal learning environment will only be achievable with the participation and support of all stakeholders throughout the health care system. This includes family physicians; other health professionals who will play critical roles on PMH teams; federal, provincial, and territorial governments; academic training programs; governing bodies for physicians and allied health care providers; and most importantly, the people of Canada themselves, individually and in their communities—the recipients of care provided by the PMH. To achieve their objectives, PMHs need the support of governments across Canada through the provision of adequate funding and other resources. Given that the structure, composition, and organization of each PMH will differ based on community and population needs, funding must be flexible. More specifically, PMH practices will differ in terms of the staff they require (clinical, administrative, etc.). Funding must be available to ensure that PMH practices can determine optimal staffing levels and needs, to best meet community needs. The health care system must also ensure that all health care professionals on the PMH team have appropriate liability protection, and that adequate resources are provided to ensure that each PMH practice can provide an optimal setting for teaching students and residents and for conducting practice-based research. These characteristics are also reflected in the Four Principles of Family Medicine, reinforcing the centrality of family medicine to the delivery of care. Experience through new models of family practice, such as patient enrolment models (PEMs) in Ontario, suggests that blended funding models are emerging as the preferred approach to paying family physicians.31–33 These models are best suited to incentivizing teambased, patient-partnered care. The current fee-forservice (FFS) model incentivizes a series of short consultations that might be insufficient to address all of the patient’s needs, while blended remuneration provides for groups of physicians to work together to provide comprehensive care through office hours and after-hours care for their rostered patients. Capitation allows for more in-depth consultations depending on population need, rather than a volume-based model. Research has also found that blended capitation models can lead to small improvements in processes of care (e.g., meeting preventive care quality targets)34 and can be especially useful for supporting patients in managing and preventing chronic diseases.35 The CFPC advocates for governments to implement blended payment mechanisms across the country to achieve better health outcomes (see the Best Advice guide: Physician Remuneration in a Patient’s Medical Home36 for more information). It is important to ensure that additional practice activities such as leadership development, QI, and teaching are supported through dedicated funding or protected time intended specifically for these activities and are not seen as financially disadvantageous. The sustainability of Canada’s health care system depends on a foundation of strong primary care and family practice.37 Indeed, “high-performing primary care is widely recognized as the foundation of an effective and efficient health care system.”38 Future funding for health care—in particular from the federal government through federal, provincial, and territorial agreements—must be sustained through appropriate and well-designed funding agreements that incentivize PMH visions of primary care; other medical home priorities including preventive care, population health, EMRs; communitybased care; along with access to medications, social services, and appropriate specialist and acute care. For the PMH vision to be successful and a part of the future of family practice care in Canada, we need the commitment and support of everyone in the Canadian health care system, including decision makers and patients. By working with all levels of government and with patients, we can improve the health care system so that everyone in Canada has access to patient-centred, comprehensive, team-based care. A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 9 Pillar 2: Appropriate Infrastructure The shift in Canada from paper-based patient records to EMRs is reaching saturation. As delivery of care evolves with greater integration of technology, potential applications to improve patient care expand.39 The proportion of family physicians using EMRs has grown from 16 per cent in 2004 to 85 per cent in 2017.40 As it becomes ubiquitous in health care delivery, information technology can be of great benefit in sharing information with patients, facilitating adherence to treatment plans and medication regimes, and using health information technology (HIT) in new and innovative methods of care. However, HIT also poses new risks and can create new barriers. Providers should be mindful of how the application about new technologies may hinder good quality patient care. When properly implemented, EMRs can help track data over time, identify patients who are due for preventive visits, better monitor patient baseline parameters (such as vaccinations and blood pressure readings), and improve overall quality of care in a practice.1 EMRs can enhance the capacity of every practice to store and recall medical information on each patient and on the practice population as a whole. They can facilitate sharing information needed for referrals and consultations. The information in an electronic record can be used for teaching, carrying out practice-based research, and evaluating the effectiveness of the practice change as part of a commitment to CQI.1 EMRs and HIT actively support other pillars in the PMH vision. In addition to storing and sharing information, the biggest benefit of this technology is the ability to collect data for practice performance and health outcomes of patients served by family practices.41 The data allow practices to measure progress through CQI goals. Larger-scale collection allows for the aggregation of anonymized data sets and measuring performance beyond the practice level.41 Strict privacy regulations ensure that patient data remain secure and confidential. Overall, QI and research benefit patients by guiding more appropriate and efficient care, which forms the basis of another key pillar of Physical space, staffing, electronic records and other digital supports, equipment, and virtual networks facilitate the delivery of timely, accessible, and comprehensive care. 2.1 All PMHs use EMRs in their practices and are able to access supports to maintain their EMR systems. 2.2 EMR products intended for use in PMHs are identified and approved by a centralized process that includes family physicians and other health care professionals. Practices are able to select an EMR product from a list of regionally approved vendors. 2.3 EMRs approved for PMHs will include appropriate standards for managing patient care in a primary care setting; e-prescribing capacity; clinical decision support programs; e-referral and consultation tools; e-scheduling tools that support advanced access; and systems that support data analytics, teaching, research, evaluation, and CQI. 2.4 Electronic records used in a PMH are interconnected, user-friendly, and interoperable. 2.5 Co-located PMH practices are in physical spaces that are accessible and set up to support collaboration and interaction between team members. 2.6 A PMH has the appropriate staff to provide timely access (e.g., having physician assistants and/or registered nurses to meet PMH goals). 2.7 A PMH has technology to enable alternative forms of care, such as virtual care/telecare. 2.8 Sufficient system funding and resources are provided to ensure that teaching faculty and facility requirements will be met by every PMH teaching site. the PMH vision— Pillar 9: Measurement, Continuous Quality Improvement, and Research. As EMR use becomes common, issues shift from rollout to optimization in the practice. Ideally, EMRs must be adequately supported financially and use a universal terminology to allow for standardized data management, and be interoperable with other electronic health records relevant to patient care.1 Training and ongoing technical support for effective use of technology must also be available. Digital information sources, especially in the sensitive areas of patient information and care planning, require a higher level of technical support to maintain faith in their use and application across stakeholder groups. A comprehensive, systematic analysis of peer-reviewed and grey literature found that cost sharing or financial sponsorship from governments is required to support the high cost of EMR adoption and maintenance. Governments in several European countries equip all primary care practices with interoperable, ambulatory care-focused electronic health records (EHRs) that allow information to flow across settings to enhance the continuity and coordination of care.1 Ensuring that government supports enable adoption, maintenance and effective use, coordination, and interoperability of electronic tools is crucial for meaningful use of this technology. A PMH will also use technology for alternative forms of care. Virtual care is clinical interactions that do not require patients and providers to be in the same room at the same time.42 Virtual visits will be financially compensated by provincial health plans. Consultations may be asynchronous, where patients answer structured clinical questions online and then receive care from a physician at a later time (e-visits), or synchronous, where patients interact with physicians in real time via telephone (teleconsultations), videoconference (virtual visits), or text.43 Virtual care increases accessibility for those living in rural and remote areas, but also in urban areas where some patients do not have a regular primary care physician or cannot access their physician for in-person appointments within a time frame that meets their current needs.43 Virtual care can also be an alternative solution for patients living in long-term care facilities and/or with mobility issues.43 Strong communication between team members allows PMH practices to function on a virtual basis when the health care professionals are not stationed in the same physical space. It is important to recognize when colocation is not feasible and maintain effective information flow in these situations, which may be especially relevant in rural and remote areas. Practices should ensure the electronic records they use are set up to support collaboration and interaction between all members of the team as much as possible, which includes all health care providers within the PMH as well as the patient’s circle of support. For example, ensuring that when patients see someone other than their most responsible provider is logged into the system and is easy to review to maintain the continuity of care. This becomes complex in situations where providers are not co-located, and further system level supports up to the level of more interoperable and universal electronic records is a prerequisite for full application of this principle. Appropriate infrastructure in a PMH is not just about technology—it includes efficient, effective, and ergonomically well-designed reception, administration, and clinical areas in the office. This is of significant benefit to staff and patients alike.44 Having a shared physical and/or virtual space where multiple team members can meet to build relationships and trust, and communicate with each other regarding patient care is essential to creating a collaborative practice. Team-based care thrives when care is intentional, when planned and regular patient care meetings are incorporated into usual PMH practice, and when these steps are included in remuneration. This collaboration ensures that patients are involved in all relevant Satisfaction with virtual visits A British Columbia study found that over 93 per cent of patients indicated that their virtual visit was of high quality, and 91 per cent reported that their virtual visit was very or somewhat helpful to resolve their health issue.43 10 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 11 discussions and are receiving the best care from professionals with a comprehensive set of skills. A family practice should be physically accessible to patients and their families. This includes ensuring all public areas, washrooms, and offices are wheelchair accessible.44 An examination room should comfortably accommodate the patient and whatever appropriate companion, or health care professionals, who may be in the room at the same time. Having multi-purpose rooms also reduces or eliminates the need to wait for an appropriate room to be available. To achieve their objectives, PMHs need the support of governments across Canada through the provision of adequate funding and other resources. Research demonstrates that in the case of EMRs, key barriers to adoption by family physicians include financial and time constraints, lack of knowledgeable support personnel, lack of interoperability with hospital and pharmacy systems,45 as well as provincial/territorial EHR systems. Therefore, government must assure funding to support the PMH team in their clinical, research, and administrative responsibilities. There must also be support for core practice components such as EMRs, patient-centred practice strategies such as group visits, and electronic communications between patients and health professionals (see Pillar 1: Administration and Funding). EMRs should help improve the delivery of care in community-based practices by enhancing productivity and processes. They are not intended to reduce time with patients, nor should they cause physician burnout or have a negative impact on physician wellness. While the structures supporting the PMH practices differs by province, it is important they cover a common set of principles enabling the base functionalities described in this document. The system must also ensure that all health professionals on the PMH team have appropriate liability protection and that adequate resources are provided so that each PMH practice can provide an optimal setting for teaching students and residents and for conducting practice-based research. Provider autonomy is critical to provider wellness: as physician leadership within the PMH is one of the key pillars, preservation of physician autonomy, while respecting the autonomy and ensuring the accountability of both patients and other health care professionals, must be addressed. Figure 2. The Patient’s Medical Neighbourhood Pillar 3: Connected Care Canada Health Infoway Established in 2001, Canada Health Infoway47 is an independent, not-for-profit organization funded by the federal government. It seeks to improve health care access, moving beyond traditional in-person care models to innovative strategies that accelerate the development, adoption, and effective use of digital health solutions across Canada. Key digital health priorities include electronic records, telehomecare, virtual visits, and patient portals. Connectivity and effective communication within and across settings of care is a crucial concept of a PMH. This ensures that the care patients receive is coordinated and continuous. To achieve this, each PMH should establish, maintain, and use defined links with secondary and tertiary care providers, including local hospitals; other specialists and medical care clinics; public health units; and laboratory, diagnostic imaging, physiotherapy, mental health and addiction, rehabilitation, and other health and social services. Connected care is a priority for many health care organizations in Canada. For example, the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (CFHI) has established a unique program that looks at improving care connections between providers through improved use of technology.41 (See the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement textbox for more information). The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA), Canadian Medical Association (CMA), and HEAL recognize that giving Canadians the best health and health care requires creating a functionally integrated health system along the full continuum of care—a system based on interprofessional collaborative teams that ensure the right provider, at the right time, in the right place, for the right care.46 Similarly, Canada Health Infoway focuses on expanding digital health across the system to improve quality of and access to care. The PMH exists within the broader patient’s medical neighbourhood (see Figure 2), with links to all other providers in the community. It is important to maintain connections with colleagues in health care as well as social support organizations within the community, as described in Pillar 5: Community Adaptiveness and Social Accountability. Through links within the neighbourhood, PMH practices work with other providers to ensure timely access for referrals/consultations and define processes for information sharing. Establishing and maintaining these links requires open and frequent communication between all those involved in patient care. 12 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 Practice integration with other care settings and services, a process enabled by integrating health information technology. 3.1 A PMH is connected with the health and social services available in the community for patient referrals. 3.2 Defined links are established between the PMH and other medical specialists, and medical care services in the local or nearest community to ensure timely referrals. 3.3 The PMH serves as a hub for collecting and sharing relevant patient information through information technology. It ensures the continuity of patient information received throughout the medical and social service settings. Ideally PMH practices act as the central hub for patient care by collecting and coordinating relevant patient information from external care providers and patients. This includes medical care and care accessed through other health and social services; for example, services received through home care programs. PMH practices should also be able to share relevant information with external providers where and when appropriate, while strictly adhering to relevant privacy regulations. This two-way flow of information ensures that all providers in the network of care have access to the most accurate and comprehensive information available, allowing them “… to spend less time looking for information and more time on what matters: treating the patient.” 49 Overall, connected care in the PMH and the health system is enabled through HIT systems. PMH practices continuously strive to work efficiently with other providers in the patient’s medical neighborhood by taking advantage of developing technologies that make links quicker to establish and easier to maintain. To use HIT systems for coordinated care, the following are required:51 Data standardization Interoperable EMR and other health information systems Real-time access to data and the ability to relay accurate information in a timely manner Reliable communication mechanisms between various health and social service providers and the PMH Privacy for patient information It is important to keep in mind that any patient information, generated during the provision of care, belongs to the patient, as outlined in the Personal Information Protection and Electronics Document Act (PIPEDA). The practice is responsible for secure and confidential storage and transfer of the information. Refer to the Data Stewardship module of the Best Advice guide: Advanced and Meaningful Use of EMRs50 for more information. Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement The Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement supports the RACE (Rapid Access to Consultative Expertise) and BASE eConsult services, which use telephone and web-based systems to connect patients with specialists.48 These programs have been successful and demonstrate that remote consultations can reduce wait times for accessing specialty care by enabling family physicians to more efficiently manage their patients in primary care settings. A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 13 14 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 FUNCTIONS The functions describe the heart of the PMH and the care provided by PMH practices. These are the key elements that differentiate a PMH from other forms of primary care. A PMH offers: Accessible Care; Community Adaptiveness and Social Accountability; Comprehensive Team-Based Care with Family Physician Leadership; Continuity of Care; and Patient- and Family-Partnered Care. ACCESSIBLE CARE PAGE 15 COMMUNITY ADAPTIVENESS & SOCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY PAGE 17 COMPREHENSIVE TEAM-BASED CARE WITH FAMILY PHYSICIAN LEADERSHIP PAGE 20 CONTINUITY OF CARE PAGE 23 PATIENT & FAMILY PARTNERED CARE PAGE 25 Equitable and ethical practices The CMA has identified equitable access to care as a key priority for reform in the health care system.53 Similarly, accessibility is a key component of the primary health care approach, which is advocated for by the CNA.54 Through the CNA’s Social Justice Gauge, and with the further development of the social justice initiative, the CNA maintains its position as a strong advocate for social justice and a leader in equitable and ethical practices in health care and public health.55 Pillar 4: Accessible Care A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 15 Accessible primary care is fundamental to a highperforming health care system and is considered by patients52 and other health care organizations as one of the most important characteristics of primary health care. For care to be accessible, all patients should have access to a family physician who acts as their most responsible provider and is supported by a team of qualified health professionals. Patients must be able to access medical care and treatment when needed. While most Canadians currently have a regular family doctor,4 it is important that the goal be for everyone in Canada to have access to their own family physicians. Accessible care is about more than just quick access to appointments. It does include timely access principles, but also advanced access, virtual access, and teambased approaches to care that ensure patients can be seen by the most appropriate provider when they need to be seen. Because visits occur for different reasons it is not useful to define appropriate wait times for each type of visit unlike in other areas of health care, such as surgery. Therefore, the focus in family practice should be on enhancing access to ensure patients can access care when they feel it is necessary. This is not to say that family physicians in a PMH must be on call 24/7/365, but that methods for patients to access care through the design of practice operations and scheduling should be given more attention. On the other hand, as patients are offered more choice (e.g., by phone or e-communication), they should also expect practices to establish realistic parameters for what is reasonable. Practices should communicate clearly about what kind of provider availability and response time is reasonable to expect depending on access method and availability of resources. Obtaining this understanding from a practice’s patients and striving to meet these expectations is a By adopting advanced and timely access, virtual access, and team-based approaches, accessible care ensures that patients can be seen quickly. 4.1 A PMH ensures patients have access to medical advice, and information on available care options 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. 4.2 Every patient is registered with a PMH. 4.3 PMH practices offer scheduling options that ensure timely access to appropriate care. 4.4 When the patient’s personal family physician is unavailable, appointments are made with another physician, nurse, or other qualified health professional member of the PMH team. 4.5 Patients are able to participate in planning and evaluation of their medical home’s appointment booking system. 4.6 Panel sizes for providers in a PMH should be appropriate to ensure timely access to appointments and safe, high-quality care. After-hours care A Waterloo, Ontario, study found that providing after-hours clinical services reduced wait times, with services from other health care providers seen as a key for improving patient access.59 Accessible care Accessible care reduces redundancy and duplication of services (e.g., when a patient takes a later appointment and also consults another provider in the interim), improves health outcomes, leads to better patient and provider satisfaction, and reduces emergency visits.56–58 16 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 good way to maintain the patient-centred focus of the practice as described in Pillar 1: Administration and Funding. Significant shifts in providing alternative access must be supported by funding bodies. Same-day scheduling has been introduced in many PMH practices to better accommodate patient needs. Frequently referred to as doing “today’s work today,” advanced access offers the vast majority of patients the opportunity to book their appointments on the day they call regardless of the reason for the visit.60 Read more about same day scheduling in the Best Advice guide: Timely Access to Appointments in Family Practice.61 Whenever possible, patients should have clear reasons for the appointment at the time of booking. This ensures that adequate time is planned for each patient visit. If the need to address multiple problems arises, the problems can be triaged on the spot by one of the team and arrangements made to have these concerns dealt with in a timely manner either during the same visit or at another time. It is not always possible for patients to book appointments with their most responsible family physician. To ensure continuity, appointments can be made with other physicians or health care professionals in the team. The decision about who provides care in these cases is based on the patient’s needs, the availability of team members, and the scope of practice for each team member. In these cases, any relevant information from the appointment is communicated to the most responsible provider and taken into account in the long-term care of the patient. PMH practices can further meet patients’ needs through extended office hours, in which the responsibilities for coverage and care are shared by family physicians in one or more practices, as well as by increased involvement of other team members. PMH practices also provide their patients with email, after-hours telephone, and virtual services to guide them to the right place at the right time for the care they need. Appropriately directing patients to the next available appointment, or to a hospital or another emergency service, is critical to the effective management and sustainability of our health care system.62,63 A PMH can help ensure that patients are aware of where they can go to access care and health information 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by providing this information to patients in person or via other systems (website, voice mail messages, etc.). In alignment with Pillar 9: Measurement, Continuous Quality Improvement, and Research, PMH practices offer opportunities for patients to provide feedback on the accessibility of the practice. Specifically, patients should have the opportunity to evaluate and provide input for the appointment booking system. Mechanisms and supports need to be in place to ensure that practices and governing bodies can review and respond to feedback appropriately and communicate this back to patients. Determining the optimal panel size for each PMH practice is critical to ensuring accessible and safe, high-quality care.64 Establishing and incorporating recommendations from the PMH vision may enable practices to consider increasing their panel size. Actual panel size will vary depending on the number of physicians and other team members in the practice, the practice’s obligations and A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 17 Social accountability refers to the family physicians’ obligation to meet the needs of Canada’s communities.66 For health care to be socially accountable, it must be accessible by everyone and responsive to the needs of patients, communities, and the broader population.4 This obligation is embedded in the Family Medicine Professional Profile and the Four Principles of Family Medicine, highlighting that family physicians are community-adaptive, responding to the needs of their patients and communities. These principles of family medicine align well with the principles of social accountability. Family practice is relationship-based care that embraces all issues of need and endures over time and place of care. A generalist keeps the whole in mind while attending to the individual parts, the system in mind when fixing individual problems, and the end in mind when commencing the journey. Tools exist to help family physicians and other health care providers enhance their skills and training regarding social accountability and cultural safety through many professional organizations and cross-Canada resource hubs like the National Collaborating Centre of Determinants of Health67 and the National Collaborating Centre on Aboriginal Health,68 as examples. PMH practices are aware of how the SDoH influence the health of patients and communities. Family physicians are often the best-situated primary care professionals to act on Pillar 5: Community Adaptiveness and Social Accountability A PMH is accountable to its community, and meets their needs through interventions at the patient, practice, community, and policy level. 5.1 PMHs strive to assess and address the social determinants of health (e.g., income, education, housing, immigration status) as relevant for the individual, community, and policy levels. 5.2 Panel size will consider the community’s needs and patients’ safety. 5.3 PMHs use data about marginalized/at-risk populations to tailor their care, programming, and advocacy to meet unique community needs. 5.4 Family doctors in the PMH act as health advocates at the individual, community, and policy levels, using the CanMEDs–Family Medicine (CanMEDS-FM) Framework as a guide to advocacy and are supported in doing so. 5.5 Family doctors and team members within the PMH provide care that is anti-oppressive and culturally safe, seeking to mitigate the experiences of discrimination faced by many patients based on their age, gender, race, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, etc. commitment to teaching and research, and the needs of the population being served (see Pillar 5: Community Adaptiveness and Social Accountability). When deciding panel size, each practice must determine how accepting more patients into the practice might impact the current population, the sustainability of the workload for physicians and other members of the PMH team, and the consequences of panel size on experience of care. Refer to the Best Advice guide: Panel Size for more information.65 issues that affect patients’ SDoH. Advocating for patients and the health care system overall is a natural part of a PMH structure. Advocacy can occur at three levels:69 Micro: In the immediate clinical environment, daily work with individual patients and predicated on the principles of caring and compassion Meso: In the local community, including the patient’s cultural community, the local community of medical providers, and the larger civic community, in which health professionals are citizens as well as practitioners Macro: In the humanitarian realm, where physicians are concerned with the welfare of their entire patient population and seek to improve human welfare through healthy public policy (such as reducing income inequality, supporting equitable and progressive taxation, and expanding the social safety net) The principles of advocacy in family practice are found in the CanMEDS–Family Medicine 201769 competency framework, under the Health Advocate role. The Best Advice guide: Social Determinants of Health70 describes how family physicians in the PMH can make advocacy a practical part of their practice. Poverty is a significant risk factor for chronic disease, mental illness, and other health conditions. Low income and other SDoH also present significant barriers to accessing care.71 To meet the needs of these patients, practices may need to extend hours, be more flexible and responsive, and spend additional time helping patients navigate and access necessary care. PMH practices consider other specific community needs when determining appropriate panel size. Demographics and health status of the patient population can influence the length and frequency of appointments needed, thereby impacting a physician’s caseload.65 For example, a PMH in a community with high rates of chronic conditions may need to reduce the panel size to provide timely and high-quality care, given that patients require more care time and resources. Similarly, a patient’s social situation may impact the time a family physician spends with them. Family physicians and team members may need to use a translator at clinical appointments, and may need to provide written resources in alternative languages, all factors affecting the time required to provide care. Enabling PMH practices to adjust panel size based on community needs requires governments to establish blended payment mechanisms. These remuneration systems ensure family physicians are adequately compensated, and are not financially disincentivized from spending the necessary time with patients (see Pillar 1: Administration and Funding, for more information). Social accountability and cultural competency Part of the response to being more socially accountable with care offered to the community resides within each and every health professional. While courses on cultural competency are now a standard part of medical education, physicians can take this learning further by seeking to reflect on, be aware of, and correct any unconscious biases that naturally forms and holds as a result of individual life experiences. Working to resolve implicit biases is a lifelong effort, but done diligently, can contribute to improving the quality of care provided,72 as well as the satisfaction of being an effective healer—of ourselves, our patients and our societies. Importance of social accountability Social accountability is a key value for health care organizations and professionals. For example, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (Royal College), Resident Doctors of Canada, and the Association of Faculties of Medicine amongst others, have adopted policies that highlight the importance social accountability within their organizations and the work they do. 18 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 Family physicians and their PMH teams are situated at the nexus of individual and population health, and can engage with their patients in addressing health promotion and disease prevention in creative ways. From accompanying individual patients through teachable moments (e.g., the smoker with pneumonia ready to quit) to influencing civic policy to address homelessness, the stories entrusted to family physicians in daily practice are powerful tools for healthy change. These teams are also key providers in many important public health areas, including illness and injury prevention; health promotion; screening and managing chronic diseases; immunizations; and health surveillance. PMH practices prioritize delivering evidence-based care for illness and injury prevention and health promotion, reinforcing them at each patient visit and other counselling opportunities. PMHs and local or regional public health units should cultivate and maintain strong links with one another. Health care professionals who are part of PMH teams may take on advisory, educational, supportive, or active roles in public health initiatives, in many different occupational, educational, or recreational settings throughout the community. An effective public health system should be inextricably linked to communitybased family physicians and PMHs, recognizing and supporting them as essential to the achievement of the broader population and public health goals. While PMHs focus primarily on the care of individuals and their families, it is important for team members to understand and address the health challenges facing their practice populations and the larger community. These broader challenges represent upstream factors (SDoH) that have greater impact on the health of patients than do the efforts of individual physicians. However, the relationships embedded in individual and collective practices can be central to engaging patients and citizens in building more just and healthier communities and societies. For example, with the help of HIT, details about the needs of populations can be more easily accessed through extraction from practice EMRs, or participation in programs such as the Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network (CPCSSN).73 The CPCSSN networks collect health information from EMRs of participating primary care providers, extract anonymous data, and share information on chronic conditions with governments, health care providers, and researchers to help inform meaningful systems and practice change. Programs like the CPCSSN allow practices to better understand the needs of their communities and implement specific health promotion and prevention programs that can contribute to the population’s overall well-being. Initiatives like this also ensure the avoidance of data duplication, and recognise that practices do not need (or have the resources) to collect data on their own. However, these data are just a part of caring—the heart of generalism is keeping the whole in mind while attending to its parts, whether it is at the level of the whole patient, the whole family, or the whole society. To meet the needs of their diverse panel of patients, family physicians and other team members in the PMH work to provide anti-oppressive and culturally-safe care, seeking to mitigate experiences of discrimination faced by many patients based on their SDoH. This requires understanding how historical and current injustices have impacted the well-being of certain populations, and working to ensure a safe and welcoming practice environment by focusing on the principles of caring and compassion. Sociodemographic data benefits The FHT at St Michael’s Hospital routinely collects sociodemographic data on all patients. Patients are surveyed about income, housing status, gender identity, and other key SDoH factors, and their responses are integrated into the secure EMR. This information is used to inform and direct individualized patient-centred care. The data will also be used for planning and evaluating the FHT’s programs.74 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 19 Pillar 6: Comprehensive Team-Based Care with Family Physician Leadership Primary care practice teams Many allied health professional organizations have prioritized the importance of working together in a team to provide patients with the best possible care. The CFPC worked collaboratively with organizations—such as the CNA, the Canadian Association of Social Workers, the Canadian Psychological Association, and the Dieticians of Canada—to create the Best Advice guide: Team-Based Care in the Patient’s Medical Home.75 The guide includes implementation strategies for creating a primary practice team, and general descriptions of roles found in a collaborative team. 20 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 A broad range of services is offered by an interprofessional team. The patient does not always see their family physician but interactions with all team members are communicated efficiently within a PMH. The team might not be co-located but the patient is always seen by a professional with relevant skills who can connect with a physician (ideally the patient’s own personal physician) as necessary. 6.1 A PMH includes one or more family physicians, who are the most responsible provider for their own panel of registered patients. 6.2 Family physicians with enhanced skills, along with other medical specialists, are part of a PMH team or network, collaborating with the patient’s personal family physician to provide timely access to a broad range of primary care and consulting services. 6.3 On-site, shared-care models to support timely medical consultations and continuity of care are encouraged and supported as part of each PMH. 6.4 The location and composition of a PMH’s team is flexible, based on community needs and realities; team members may be co-located or may function as part of virtual networks. 6.5 The personal family physician and nurse with relevant qualifications form the core of PMH teams, with the roles of others (including but not limited to physician assistants, pharmacists, psychologists, social workers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dietitians, and chiropractors) encouraged and supported as needed. 6.6 Physicians, nurses, and other members of the PMH team are encouraged and supported in developing ongoing relationships with patients. Each care provider is recognized as a member of the patient’s personal medical home team. 6.7 Nurses and other health professionals in a PMH team will provide services within their defined roles, professional scopes of practice, and personally acquired competencies. Their roles providing both episodic and ongoing care support and complement—but do not replace—those of the family physician. Team-based care is a core function of the PMH. Building a team with a diverse mix of professional backgrounds creates an opportunity to redefine what is considered optimal, based on the needs of the practice and the community it serves. A high-performing team is essential to delivering more comprehensive, coordinated, and effective care centred on the patient’s needs. While different circumstances call for aspects of patient care to be provided by different health professionals, it is important to ensure that family physician expertise is available to all team members through consultation. To practice effectively in an interprofessional health care team, there must be a clear understanding of each member’s unique contributions, including educational background, scopes of practice and knowledge, and areas of excellence and limitations.76 Practices that draw on the expertise of a variety of team members are more likely to provide patients with the care they need and respond to community needs.77 Relationships across all dynamics within a practice, whether between a patient and family physician or between a patient and other members of the team, should be encouraged and supported in the PMH. Establishing these relationships develops trust and confidence, and works toward the ultimate goal of achieving better health outcomes. While it should be left to each practice to determine who does what (within the boundaries of professional scopes of practice), the most responsible provider for the medical care for each patient in the practice should be the patient’s personal family physician. Family physicians with enhanced skills and family physicians with focused practices play an important role in collaborating with the patient’s personal family physician and team to provide timely access to a range of primary care and consulting services. They supplement their core skills and experience with additional expertise in a particular field, while remaining committed to their core generalist principles.78 These doctors can draw extensively on their generalist training and approach to disease management and patient-centred care, enabling them to work collaboratively at different levels of care, including with other specialists, to meet patient needs.79 These clinicians also serve as a resource for other physicians in their local health system by enhancing care delivery and learning and teaching opportunities. The Best Advice guide: Communities of Practice in the Patient’s Medical Home80 provides more information about intraprofessional collaboration between family physicians. Shared care strategies provide patients with timely access to consultations with other specialists or family physicians with enhanced skills at scheduled times in the family practice office setting. The consultant might assess several patients per visit, at which time a plan for ongoing care can be developed and agreed to by the family physician, consultant, other team members, and the patient. There is no one-size-fits-all model when determining what mix of health care professionals is right. Team composition depends on the professional competencies, skills, and experiences needed to address the health needs of the patient population.81 These needs vary, depending on the communities’ defining characteristics; Additional members of practice teams Not all health care professionals in a team need to be hired as a full-time team member. For example, a practice can hire a dietician for specific days to lead a diabetes education program and see scheduled patients. Practices can also host other health care professionals, such as those employed with a regional health authority, to provide care to patients on-site. However, funding bodies should recognize that family practice clinics hosting other health care professionals often carry the overhead costs associated with these practitioners working on site, and further supports should be made available to ensure that costs do not unduly fall on the physicians. Pillar 1: Administration and Funding and Pillar 2: Appropriate Infrastructure highlight that a PMH needs to be properly funded and have access to the right infrastructure (physical and governance) to support the initiatives described in this vision. A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 21 22 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 for example, geography, culture, language, demographics, disease prevalence. Family physicians are encouraged to identify the gaps in health care provision in the local practice environment and work with other health care providers to meet those needs as much as possible. Data from EMRs—as well as input from patients, community members, and stakeholders—should inform team planning. Factors to consider include: Patient population Identified community health care needs Hours available for patient access Hours available for each physician to work Roles and number of non-physician providers Funds available81 Overlapping or variations of similar competencies can result in ambiguous expectations of what a defined role is within a practice. When teams are planned and developed, roles should be clearly outlined. This is best done at the local practice level relative to community needs and resources. This approach considers changes over the course of a health care professional’s career, including skills development, achievement of certifications, and professional interests.82 It is important to include time for team members to become comfortable in their role, at the outset of team-based care and with any changes to the team. It is also important to recognize that these arrangements are flexible and subject to change, provided the team engages in discussion and reaches consensus on needed adjustments. Team members might be in the same office or in the same building, but this is not necessary. For smaller and more remote practices, or larger urban centres where proximate physical space may be a barrier, some connections may be arranged with peers in other sites. Applying HIT judiciously allows for virtual referrals and consultations. Virtual links between PMH practices and other specialists, hospitals, diagnostic services, etc., can be enhanced with more formal agreements and commitments to provide timely access to care and services. By providing patients with a comprehensive array of services that best meet their needs, team-based care can lead to better access, higher patient and provider satisfaction, and greater resource efficiency.61,77,83 Although there are presently many systems in place that support the creation of health care teams, practices can also create a successful team on their own. To ensure team success, providers must have a clear understanding of the different role responsibilities and ensure that there are tools available to engage open dialogue and communication. Teams within the PMH are supported by a model that is flexible and adaptable to each situation. The skills that family physicians acquire during their training (as described in the CanMEDS-FM framework) make them well suited to provide leadership within interprofessional teams. As an important part of a PMH, teams are central to the concept of patient-centred care that is comprehensive, timely, and continuous. A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 23 Pillar 7: Continuity of Care Continuity of care is defined by consistency over time related to where, how, and by whom each person’s medical care needs are addressed throughout the course of their life.84 With strong links to comprehensive team-based care (see Pillar 6: Comprehensive Team-Based Care with Family Physician Leadership), continuity of care is essential to any practice trying to deliver care truly centred on the needs of the patient. Continuity of care is rooted in a long-term patient-physician partnership in which the physician knows the patient’s history from experience and can integrate new information and decisions from a whole-person perspective efficiently without extensive investigation or record review.84 From the patient’s perspective, this includes understanding each person’s life journey and the context this brings to current health status, and the trust they have in their provider that is built over time. Past studies show that when the same physician attends to a person over time, for both minor and more serious health problems, the patient-physician relationship is strengthened and understanding grows—an essential element of effective primary health care.85 The personal physician offers their medical knowledge and expertise for a more complete understanding of the patient as a person, including the patient’s medical history and their broader social context, such as personal, family, social, and work histories (see Pillar 5: Community Adaptiveness and Social Accountability). In this model, patients, their families and/or personal caregivers, and all health care providers in the PMH team are partners in care, working together to achieve the patient’s goals and engaging in shared decision making. Understanding the patient’s needs, hopes, and fears, and their patterns of response to illness, medications, and other treatments, deepens the physician’s ability to respond to larger trends, not just the medical issue presented at any given appointment. Continuity of care can ideally support the health and well-being of patients actively and in their daily lives without focusing only on care when they are ill. The strong physician-patient relationship developed over time allows them to maintain good health and prevent illness and injury, as the physician uses their deep knowledge of their patient to work with teams of qualified health professionals to best support the patient’s well-being. Family physicians in the PMH, acting as the most responsible provider, can provide continuous care over the patient’s lifespan and develop strong relationships with patients. Research demonstrates that one of the most significant contributors to better population health is continuity of care.86,87 It found that those who see the same primary care physician continuously over time have better health outcomes, reduced emergency department use, and reductions in hospitalizations versus those who receive care from many different physicians. A Canadian study found that after controlling for demographics and health status, continuity of care was a predictor of decreased hospitalization for ambulatory caresensitive conditions (such as such as COPD, asthma, diabetes, and heart failure) and decreased emergency department visits for a wide range of family practicesensitive conditions.85 Overall “the more physicians patients see, the greater the likelihood of adverse effects; seeking care from multiple physicians in Patients live healthier, fuller lives when they receive care from a responsible provider who journeys with them and knows how their health changes over time. 7.1 The PMH enables and fosters long-term relationships between patients and the care team, thereby ensuring continuous care across the patient’s lifespan. 7.2 PMH teams ensure continuity of care is provided for their patients in different settings, including the family practice office, hospitals, long-term care and other community-based institutions, and the patient’s residence. 7.3 A PMH serves as the hub that ensures coordination and continuity of care related to all the medical services their patients receive throughout the medical community. the presence of high burdens of morbidity will be associated with a greater likelihood of adverse side effects.”86 It has been reported that a regular and consistent source of care is associated with better access to preventive care services, regardless of the patient’s financial status. Continuity of care also requires continuity in medical settings, information, and relationships. Having most medical services provided or coordinated in the same place by one’s personal family physician and team has been shown to result in better health outcomes.88 As described in Pillar 3: Connected Care, when care must be provided in different settings or by different health professionals (i.e., the medical neighbourhood), continuity can still be preserved if the PMH plays a coordination role and communicates effectively with other providers. The PMH liaises with external care providers to coordinate all aspects of care provided to patients based on their needs. This includes but is not limited to submitting and following up on referrals to specialized services, coordinating home care, and working with patients before and after discharge from hospitals or other critical care centres. In addition to this coordination role, the PMH acts as a hub by sharing, collecting, storing, and acting as a steward for all relevant patient information. This ensures that the family physician, as the most responsible provider, has a complete overview of the patient’s history. A record of care provided for each patient should be available in each medical record (preferably through an EMR) and available to all appropriate care providers (see Pillar 2: Appropriate Infrastructure for more information about EMRs). Knowing that medical information from all sources (i.e., providers inside and outside the PMH) is consolidated in one location (physical or virtual) increases the comfort and trust of patients regarding their care. Continuity for patient health Research demonstrates that continuity of care is a key contributor to overall population health. Patients with a regular family physician experience better health outcomes and fewer hospitalizations as compared to those without.69 24 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 Pillar 8: Patient- and Family-Partnered Care External factors for patient health care Patient- and family-partnered care is considered a key value to stakeholders across the health care system. In 2011, the CMA and the CNA released a set of principles to guide the transformation of Canada’s health care system.91 Patient-centred care is listed as the first principle, and as a key component of improving the overall health care experience.91 Similarly, in 2016 Patients Canada called on all levels of government to ensure that patients are at the centre of any new health accords and future health care reform.92 * Family caregivers include relatives, partners, friends, neighbours, and other community members. Patient-centred care is at the core of the PMH. Dr. Ian McWhinney—often considered the “father of family medicine”—describes patient-centred care as the provider “enter[ing] the patient’s world, to see the illness through the patient’s eyes … [It] is closely congruent with and responsive to patients’ wants, needs and preferences.”89 In this model, patients, their families and/ or personal caregivers, and all health care providers in the PMH team are partners in care, working together to achieve the patient’s goals and engaging in shareddecision making. Care should always reflect the patient’s feelings and expectations and meet their individual needs. Refer to the Best Advice guide: Patient-Centred Care in a Patient’s Medical Home90 for more information. Family caregivers* play an important role in the PMH. They help patients manage and cope with illness and can assist physicians by acting as a reliable source of health information and collaborating to develop and enact treatment plans.93 The level and type of engagement from family caregivers should always be determined by the patient. Physicians “should routinely assess the patient’s wishes regarding the nature and degree of caregiver participation in the clinical encounter and strive to provide the patient’s desired level of privacy.”94 They should revisit this conversation regularly and make changes based on patient desires. PMH practices focus on providing patient-centred care and ensuring that family caregivers are included. A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 25 Family practices respond to the unique needs of patients and their families within the context of their environment. 8.1 Care and care providers in a PMH are patient-focused and provide services that respond to patients’ feelings, preferences, and expectations. 8.2 Patients, their families, and their personal caregivers are active participants in the shared-decision making process. 8.3 A PMH facilitates patients’ access to their medical information through electronic medical records as agreed upon with their care team. 8.4 Self-managed care is encouraged and supported as part of the care plans for each patient. 8.5 Strategies that encourage access to a range of care options beyond the traditional office visits (e.g., telehealth, virtual care, mobile health units, e-consult, etc.) are incorporated into the PMH. 8.6 Patient participation and formalized feedback mechanisms (e.g., patient advisory councils, patient surveys) are part of ongoing planning and evaluation. As part of their commitment to patient-centred care, PMH practices facilitate and support patient self-management. Self-management interventions such as support for decision making, self-monitoring, and psychological and social support, have been demonstrated to improve health outcomes.95 PMH team members should always consider recommendations for care from the patient’s perspective. They should work collaboratively with patients and their caregivers to develop realistic action plans and teach problem-solving and coping. This is particularly important for those with chronic conditions, who must work in partnership with their physician and health care team to manage their condition over time. (Refer to the Best Advice guide: Chronic Care Management in a Patient’s Medical Home96 for more information). The goal of self-managed care should be to build the patient’s and caregiver’s confidence in their ability to deal effectively with illnesses, improve health outcomes, and foster overall well-being. To facilitate patient- and family-partnered care, a range of user-friendly options for accessing information and care beyond the traditional office visit should be available to patients when appropriate. These include email, telehealth, virtual care, mobile health units, e-consults, home visits, same-day scheduling, group visits, self-care strategies, patient education, and treatment sessions offered in community settings. Providing a range of options allows patients to access the type of care they prefer based on individual needs. Patients also need to be informed about how they can access information and resources available to them; for example, resources such as Prevention in Hand (PiH).97 Allowing patients to access to their medical records can improve patient-provider communication and increase patient satisfaction.98,99 The specific information accessible to patients should be discussed and agreed upon by the patient and their care team. Patient education about accessing and interpreting the available information is necessary. Facilitating this type of access requires each PMH to have an EMR system that allows external users to access information securely (see Pillar 2: Appropriate Infrastructure). Patient surveys and opportunities for patients to participate in planning and evaluating the effectiveness of the practice’s services should be encouraged; practices must be willing respond and adapt to patient feedback. To strengthen a patient-centred approach, practices may consider developing patients’ advisory councils or other formalized feedback mechanisms (e.g., using patient surveys) as part of their CQI processes (see Pillar 9: Measurement, Continuous Quality Improvement, and Research). Patient self-management The Ajax Harwood Clinic (AHC) is a good example of how a practice that enables patient self-management can improve long-term health outcomes, especially for patients with chronic conditions.94 The AHC has created an environment of learning and seeks to encourage health literacy among its patients through its various programs. The clinic is focused on patient education and empowerment, and all programs at the clinic are free of charge to patients to remove financial barriers to access. 26 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 27 ONGOING DEVELOPMENT Each PMH strives for ongoing development to better achieve the core functions. The PMH and its staff are committed to Measurement, Continuous Quality Improvement, and Research; and Training, Education, and Continuing Professional Development. MEASUREMENT, CONTINUOUS QUALITY IMPROVEMENT, AND RESEARCH PAGE 28 TRAINING, EDUCATION, AND CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PAGE 30 28 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 Continuous quality improvement CQI is an important value among health organizations such as the CFHI.100 Pillar 9: Measurement, Continuous Quality Improvement, and Research CQI is an essential characteristic of the PMH vision. It encourages health care teams to make practical improvements to their practice, while monitoring the effectiveness of their services, the health outcomes and safety of their patients, and the satisfaction of both patients and the health professionals on the team. Every PMH is committed to establishing a CQI program that will improve patient safety, and enhance efficiency and quality of the services provided to patients. As part of CQI activities, a structured approach is used to evaluate current practice processes and improve systems and to achieve desired outcomes. To engage in CQI, the PMH team must identify the desired outcomes and determine appropriate evaluation strategies. Once the process and the desired outcome are defined with patients, the CQI activity will track performance through data collection and comparison with the baseline. Performance measures can be captured through structured observation, patient and staff surveys (see Pillar 8: Patient- and Family- Partnered Care), the PMH self-assessment tool, and the practice’s EMR (see Pillar 1: Administration and Funding and Pillar 3: Connected Care). The indicators selected should be appropriate to each practice and community setting, be meaningful to the patients and community, and the CQI process could be introduced as a practice’s self-monitoring improvement program or as an assessment carried out by an external group. In some jurisdictions, funding is tied to achieving performance targets, including those that provide evidence for the delivery of more cost-effective care and better health outcomes.101 Some provinces in Canada have begun to link financial incentives to clinical outcomes and targets that have been achieved (“pay for performance” models).102 Although there may be some benefits derived by this approach, there can also be risks if funding incentives and resource supports become overly focused on patients with certain medical problems or on those who have greater potential to reach prescribed targets, while at the same time care is being delayed or denied for others.101,103 Future development A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 28 Family practices strive for progress through performance measurement and CQI. Patient safety is always a focus, and new ideas are brought to the fore through patient engagement in QI and research activities. 9.1 PMHs establish and support CQI programs that evaluate the quality and cost effectiveness of teams and the services they provide for patient and provider satisfaction. 9.2 Results from CQI are applied and used to enhance operations, services, and programs provided by the PMH. 9.3 All members of the health professional team (both clinical and support teams), as well as trainees and patients, will participate in the CQI activity carried out in each PMH. 9.4 PMHs support their physicians, other health professionals, students, and residents to initiate and participate in research carried out in their practice settings. 9.5 PMHs function as ideal sites for community-based research focused on patient health outcomes and the effectiveness of care and services. A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 29 of financial incentive models should consider these unintended consequences that might impair the ability of practices to provide good quality patient care to their full population. The objectives that define a PMH could be used to develop the indicators for CQI initiatives in family practices across Canada. These criteria could be augmented by indicators recommended by organizations such as Accreditation Canada, Health Quality Ontario, Health Standards Organization, and the Patient-Centered Medical Home model in the United States. The CFPC is committed to collaborating with these groups to further develop the CQI process for PMHs and family practices. Consult the CFPC’s Practice Improvement Initiative (Pii)104 for a list of available resources. CQI is a team activity and should involve all members of the PMH team as well as patients and trainees. This will ensure buy-in from the team, allow for patient engagement and participation, and provide trainees with valuable learning opportunities.105 PMHs are committed to using the results of CQI initiatives to make tangible changes in their practice to improve operations, services, and programs. Time and effort invested into participation in CQI activities should be recognized as valuable and not be disincentivized through existing remuneration models. Dedicated time and capacity to perform these activities should be built into the practice operational principles. On a larger scale, PMHs function as ideal sites for community-based research focused on patient health outcomes and the effectiveness of care and services. The PMH team should be encouraged and supported to participate in research activities. They should also advocate for medical students, residents, and trainees to take part in these projects. In Canada, the Canadian Primary Healthcare Research Network (CPHRN) and the commitment of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research’s (CIHR’s) Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) are vitally important.106 The focus on supporting patient-oriented research carried out in community primary care settings is consistent with the priorities of the PMH. Competitions for research grants such as those announced by SPOR should be strongly encouraged and supported. PMHs are ideal laboratories for studies that embrace the principles of comparative effectiveness research (CER) and the priorities defined by the CPHRN and CIHR’s SPOR project. They provide excellent settings for multi-site research initiatives, including projects like those currently undertaken by the CPCSSN—a nationwide network of family physicians conducting surveillance of various chronic diseases. 30 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 Pillar 10: Training, Education, and Continuing Professional Development PMH practices serve as training sites for medical students, family medicine residents, and those training to become nurses and other health care professionals.107 They create space for modelling and teaching practices focused on the essential roles of family physicians and interprofessional teams as part of the continuum of a health care system. One of the goals of family medicine residency training is for residents to learn to function as a member of an interdisciplinary team, caring for patients in a variety of settings including family practice offices, hospitals, long-term care and other communitybased institutions, and patients’ residences.70,108 A PMH also models making research and QI initiatives a standard feature of a family practice. Professional development and opportunities to participate in these activities should be available and supported within PMH practices through resources, guidance, and specifically dedicated time. Family medicine training is increasingly focused on achieving and maintaining competencies defined by the CFPC’s Triple C Family Medicine Curriculum.109 Triple C includes five domains of care: care of patients across the life cycle; care across clinical settings (urban and rural); a defined spectrum of clinical responsibilities; care of marginalized/disadvantaged patients and populations; and a defined list of core procedures. Triple C also incorporates the Four Principles of Family Medicine and the CanMEDS-FM Roles. PMHs allow family medicine students and residents to achieve the competencies of the Triple C curriculum and to learn how to incorporate the Four Principles of Family Medicine, the Family Medicine Professional Profile, and the CanMEDS-FM roles into their professional lives. Learners gain experience with patient-partnered care, teams/networks, EMRs, timely access to appointments, comprehensive continuing care, management of undifferentiated and complex problems, coordination of care, practice-based research, and CQI—essential elements of family practice in Canada. Furthermore, PMH practices serve as optimal sites for trainees in other medical specialties and health professions to gain valuable experience working in interprofessional teams and providing high quality, patient-centred care. Medical schools and residency programs should encourage learners to conduct some of their training within PMH practices. Emphasis on training and education ensures that the knowledge and expertise of family physicians can be shared with the broader health care community, and also over time by creating learning organizations where both students and fully practising family physicians can stay at the forefront of best practice. 10.1 PMHs are identified and supported by medical and other health professional schools as optimal locations for the experiential training of their students and residents. 10.2 PMHs teach and model their core defining elements including patient-partnered care, teams/networks, EMRs, timely access to appointments, comprehensive continuing care, management of undifferentiated and complex problems, coordination of care, practice-based research, and CQI. 10.3 PMHs provide a training environment for family medicine residents that models, and enables residents to achieve, the competencies as defined by the Triple C Competency-based Family Medicine Curriculum, the Four Principles of Family Medicine, and the CanMEDS-FM Roles. 10.4 PMHs will enable physicians and other health professionals to engage in continuing professional development (CPD) to meet the needs of their patients and their communities both individually and as a team. 10.5 PMHs enable family physicians to share their knowledge and expertise with the broader health care community. Practising family physicians must engage in CPD to keep current on medical and health care developments and to ensure their expertise reflects the changing needs of their patients, communities, and learners. Mainpro+® (Maintenance of Proficiency) is the CFPC’s program designed to support and promote family physicians’ CPD across all CanMEDS-FM Roles and competencies. CPD refers to physicians’ professional obligation to engage in learning activities that address their own identified needs and the needs of their patients; enhance knowledge, skills, and competencies across all dimensions of professional practice; and continuously improve their performance and health care outcomes within their scope of practice.110 Three foundational principles for CPD in Canada have been recently described: Socially responsive to the needs of patients and communities Informed by scientific evidence and practicebased data Designed to achieve improvement in physician practice and patient outcomes CPD is inclusive of learning across all CanMEDS-FM Roles and competencies, including clinical expertise, teaching and education, research and scholarship, and in practice-based QI. PMH practices support their physicians, and all other staff members, to engage in CPD activities throughout their careers by creating a learning culture in the organization. This includes providing protected time for learning and team-based learning, and access to practice data both to discern patient/community need and practice gaps to inform CPD choices and to evaluate the impact of learning on patient care. This learning culture and the will to be constantly improving quality and access to care is essential to ensuring that the PMH continues to support high performing care teams. To ensure that all PMH team members have the capacity to take on their required roles, leadership development programs should be offered. Enabling physicians to engage in this necessary professional development requires sufficient funding by governments to cover costs of training and financial support to ensure lost income and practice capacity do not prevent this. Physicians in the PMH share their knowledge with colleagues in the broader health care community and with other health care professionals in the team by participating in education, training, and QI activities in collaboration with the pentagram partners.† This is particularly relevant for family physicians who are focused on a particular area of practice (possibly holding a Certificate of Added Competence) and are able to share their extended expertise with others. This can happen either informally or through more official channels. For example, physicians may participate in activities organized by the CFPC or provincial Chapters (e.g., Family Medicine Forum, provincial family medicine annual scientific assemblies), or lend their expertise to interprofessional working groups addressing specific topics in health care. Family physicians should be encouraged to engage in these types of events to share their knowledge and skills for the betterment of the overall health system. Continuing professional development CPD is an integral value across the entire health care system. Organizations such as the Royal College, CMA, and CNA emphasize the value and importance of continuing education for health care professionals to improve patient care. † Pentagram partners: policy-makers—federal, provincial, territorial, and regional health authorities; health and education administrators; university; community; health professionals—physicians and teams A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 31 32 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 CONCLUSION The revised PMH vision of a high-functioning primary care system responds to the rapidly evolving health system and the changing needs of Canadians. The pillars and attributes described in this document can guide practices at various stages in the transition to a PMH, and many characteristics are found in other foundational documents of family medicine such as the Family Medicine Professional Profile111 and the Four Principles of Family Medicine. Supporting resources, such as the PMH Implementation Kit, are available to help those new to the transition overcome barriers to change. Although the core components of the PMH remain the same for all practices, each practice will implement the recommendations according to their unique needs. The PMH is focused on enhancing patient-centredness in the health care system through collaboration, access, continuity, and social accountability. It is intended to build on the long-standing historical contribution of family physicians and primary care to the health and wellbeing of Canadians, as well as on the emerging models of family practice and primary care that have been introduced across the country. Importantly, this vision provides goals and recommendations that can serve as indicators. It enables patients, family physicians, other care health professionals, researchers, health planners, and policy-makers evaluate the effectiveness of any and all models of family practice throughout Canada. Those family practices that meet the goals and recommendations described in this vision will have become PMHs, but the concept is ever evolving. As family physicians commit to making change in their practices, the CFPC commits to supporting developments in the PMH by creating and promoting new resources, which will be available through the PMH website. 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Interacting with patients’ family members during the office visit. Am Fam Physician. 2011; 84(7): 780-784. 94. Mitnick S, Leffler C, Hood VL; American College of Physicians Ethics, Professionalism and Human Rights Committee. Family caregivers, patients and physicians: ethical guidance to optimize relationships. J Gen Intern Med. 2010;25(3):255-60. 95. Panagioti M, Richardson G, Small N, Murray E, Rogers A, Kennedy A, et al. Self-management support interventions to reduce health care utilisation without compromising outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Health Serv Res. 2014;14:356. 96. College of Family Physicians of Canada. Best Advice guide: Chronic Care Management in a Patient’s Medical Home. Mississauga, ON: College of Family Physicians of Canada; 2016. Available from: https://patientsmedicalhome.ca/ resources/best-advice-guides/best-advice-guide-chronic-care-managementpatients- medical-home/. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 97. Prevention in Hand website. www.preventioninhand.com. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 98. Kruse CS, Argueta DA, Lopez L, Nair A. Patient and provider attitudes toward the use of patient portals for the management of chronic disease: a systematic review. J Med Internet Res. 2015;17(2):e40. 99. Kruse CS, Bolton K, Freriks G. The effect of patient portals on quality outcomes and its implications to meaningful use: a systematic review. J Med Internet Res. 2015;17(2):e44. 100. Health Council of Canada. Which way to quality? Key perspectives on quality improvement in Canadian health care systems. Toronto, ON: Health Council of Canada; 2013. Available from: https://healthcouncilcanada.ca/files/ QIReport_ENG_FA.pdf. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 101. Mattison CA, Wilson MC. Rapid Synthesis: Examining the Effects of Valuebased Physician Payment Models. Hamilton, ON: McMaster Health Forum; 2017. Available from: www.mcmasterforum.org/docs/default-source/productdocuments/ rapid-responses/examining-the-effects-of-value-based-physicianpayment- models.pdf?sfvrsn=2. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. \ 102. Kaczorowski J, Hearps SJ, Lohfeld L, Goeree R, Donald F, Burgess K, et al. Effect of provider and patient reminders, deployment of nurse practitioners, and financial incentives on cervical and breast cancer screening rates. Can Fam Phys. 2013; 59(6): e282-9. 103. Hutchison B. Pay for performance in primary care: proceed with caution, pitfalls ahead. Healthc Policy. 2008; 4(1): 10-15. 104. College of Family Physicians of Canada. The Practice Improvement Initiative (Pii) website. www.cfpc.ca/pii/. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 105. Ontario College of Family Physicians. Advancing Practice Improvement in Primary Care – Final Report. Toronto, ON: Ontario College of Family Physicians; 2015. Available from: https://ocfp.on.ca/docs/default-source/ default-document-library/hqo_final_report_advancing_practice_improvement_in_ primary_care.pdf?sfvrsn=d793f489_4. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 106. Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research website. www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/41204.html. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 107. Hasley PB, Simak D, Cohen E, Buranosky R. Training residents to work in a patient-centered medical home: What are the outcomes? J Grad Med Educ. 2016; 8(2): 226-231. 108. College of Family Physicians of Canada. Specific Standards for Family Medicine Residency Programs – The Red Book. Mississauga, ON: College of Family Physicians of Canada; 2016. 109. College of Family Physicians of Canada. Triple C Competency Based Curriculum website. www.cfpc.ca/Triple_C/. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 110. Filipe HP, Silva ED, Stulting AA, Golnik KC. Continuing professional development: Best practices. Middle East Afr J Ophthalmol. 2014; 21(2): 134-141. 111. College of Family Physicians of Canada. Family Medicine Professional Profile website. www.cfpc.ca/fmprofile/. Accessed 2019 Jan 22.
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Maintaining Ontario’s leadership on prohibiting the use of sick notes for short medical leaves

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy13934
Date
2018-11-15
Topics
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Health systems, system funding and performance
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Date
2018-11-15
Topics
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Health systems, system funding and performance
Text
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) submits this brief to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs for consideration as part of its study on Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018. The CMA unites physicians on national, pan-Canadian health and medical matters. As the national advocacy organization representing physicians and the medical profession, the CMA engages with provincial/territorial governments on pan-Canadian health and health care priorities. As outlined in this submission, the CMA supports the position of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) in recommending that Schedule 1 of Bill 47 be amended to strike down the proposed new Section 50(6) of the Employment Standards Act, 2000. This section proposes to reinstate an employer’s ability to require an employee to provide a sick note for short leaves of absence because of personal illness, injury or medical emergency. Ontario is currently a national leader on sick notes In 2018, Ontario became the first jurisdiction in Canada to withdraw the ability of employers to require employees to provide sick notes for short medical leaves because of illnesses such as a cold or flu. This legislative change aligned with the CMA’s policy position1 and was strongly supported by the medical and health policy community. An emerging pan-Canadian concern about the use of sick notes As health systems across Canada continue to grapple with the need to be more efficient, the use of sick notes for short leaves as a human resources tool to manage employee absenteeism has drawn increasing criticism in recent years. In addition to Ontario’s leadership, here are a few recent cases that demonstrate the emerging concern about the use of sick notes for short leaves:
In 2016, proposed legislation to end the practice was tabled in the Manitoba legislature.2
The Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association and Doctors Nova Scotia have been vocal opponents of sick notes for short leaves, characterizing them as a strain on the health care system.3,4
The University of Alberta and Queen’s University have both formally adopted “no sick note” policies for exams.5,6
The report of Ontario’s Changing Workplaces Review summarized stakeholder comments about sick notes, describing them as “costly, very often result from a telephone consultation and repeat what the physician is told by the patient, and which are of very little value to the employer.”7 Ontario’s action in 2018 to remove the ability of employers to require sick notes, in response to the real challenges posed by this practice, was meaningful and demonstrated leadership in the national context. The requirement to obtain sick notes negatively affects patients and the public By walking back this advancement, Ontario risks reintroducing a needless inefficiency and strain on the health system, health care providers, their patients and families. For patients, having to produce a sick note for an 4 employer following a short illness-related leave could represent an unfair economic impact. Individuals who do not receive paid sick days may face the added burden of covering the cost of obtaining a sick note as well as related transportation fees in addition to losing their daily wage. This scenario illustrates an unfair socioeconomic impact of the proposal to reinstate employers’ ability to require sick notes. In representing the voice of Canada’s doctors, the CMA would be remiss not to mention the need for individuals who are ill to stay home, rest and recover. In addition to adding a physical strain on patients who are ill, the requirement for employees who are ill to get a sick note, may also contribute to the spread of viruses and infection. Allowing employers to require sick notes may also contribute to the spread of illness as employees may choose to forego the personal financial impact, and difficulty to secure an appointment, and simply go to work sick. Reinstating sick notes contradicts the government’s commitment to end hallway medicine It is important to consider these potential negative consequences in the context of the government’s commitment to “end hallway medicine.” If the proposal to reintroduce the ability of employers to require sick notes for short medical leaves is adopted, the government will be introducing an impediment to meeting its core health care commitment. Reinstating sick notes would increase the administrative burden on physicians Finally, as the national organization representing the medical profession in Canada, the CMA is concerned about how this proposal, if implemented, may negatively affect physician health and wellness. The CMA recently released a new baseline survey, CMA National Physician Health Survey: A National Snapshot, that reveals physician health is a growing concern.8 While the survey found that 82% of physicians and residents reported high resilience, a concerning one in four respondents reported experiencing high levels of burnout. How are these findings relevant to the proposed new Section 50(6) of the Employment Standards Act, 2000? Paperwork and administrative burden are routinely found to rank as a key contributor to physician burnout.9 While a certain level of paperwork and administrative responsibility is to be expected, health system and policy decision-makers must avoid introducing an unnecessary burden in our health care system. Conclusion: Remove Section 50(6) from Schedule 1 of Bill 47 The CMA appreciates the opportunity to provide this submission for consideration by the committee in its study of Bill 47. The committee has an important opportunity to respond to the real challenges associated with sick notes for short medical leaves by ensuring that Section 50(6) in Schedule 1 is not implemented as part of Bill 47. 5 1 Canadian Medical Association (CMA). Third-Party Forms (Update 2017). Ottawa: The Association; 2017. Available: http://policybase.cma.ca/dbtw-wpd/Policypdf/PD17-02.pdf (accessed 2019 Nov 13). 2 Bill 202. The Employment Standards Code Amendment Act (Sick Notes). Winnipeg: Queen’s Printer for the Province of Manitoba; 2016. Available: https://web2.gov.mb.ca/bills/40-5/pdf/b202.pdf (accessed 2019 Nov 13). 3 CBC News. Sick notes required by employers a strain on system, says NLMA. 2018 May 30. Available: www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/employer-required-sick-notes-unnecessary-says-nlma-1.4682899 4 CBC News. No more sick notes from workers, pleads Doctors Nova Scotia. 2014 Jan 10. Available: www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/no-more-sick-notes-from-workers-pleads-doctors-nova-scotia-1.2491526 (accessed 2019 Nov 13). 5 University of Alberta University Health Centre. Exam deferrals. Edmonton: University of Alberta; 2018. Available: www.ualberta.ca/services/health-centre/exam-deferrals (accessed 2019 Nov 13). 6 Queen’s University Student Wellness Services. Sick notes. Kingston: Queen’s University; 2018. Available: www.queensu.ca/studentwellness/health-services/services-offered/sick-notes (accessed 2019 Nov 13). 7 Ministry of Labour. The Changing Workplaces Review: An Agenda for Workplace Rights. Final Report. Toronto: Ministry of Labour; 2017 May. Available: https://files.ontario.ca/books/mol_changing_workplace_report_eng_2_0.pdf (accessed 2019 Nov 13). 8 Canadian Medical Association (CMA). One in four Canadian physicians report burnout [media release]. Ottawa: The Association; 2018 Oct 10. Available: www.cma.ca/En/Pages/One-in-four-Canadian-physicians-report-burnout-.aspx (accessed 2019 Nov 13). 9 Leslie C. The burden of paperwork. Med Post 2018 Apr.
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Best practices for smartphone and smart-device clinical photo taking and sharing

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy13860
Date
2018-03-03
Topics
Health information and e-health
Ethics and medical professionalism
  1 document  
Policy Type
Policy document
Date
2018-03-03
Topics
Health information and e-health
Ethics and medical professionalism
Text
Clinical photography is a valuable tool for physicians. Smartphones, as well as other devices supporting network connectivity, offer a convenient, efficient method to take and share images. However, due to the private nature of the information contained in clinical photographs there are concerns as to the appropriate storage, dissemination, and documentation of clinical images. Confidentiality of image data must be considered and the dissemination of these images onto servers must respect the privacy and rights of the patient. Importantly, patient information should be considered as any information deriving from a patient, and the concepts outlined therefore apply to any media that can be collected on, or transmitted with, a smart-device. Clinical photography can aid in documenting form and function, in tracking conditions and wound healing, in planning surgical operations, and in clinical decision-making. Additionally, clinical photographs can provide physicians with a valuable tool for patient communication and education. Due to the convenience of this type of technology it is not appropriate to expect physicians to forego their use in providing their patients with the best care available. The technology and software required for secure transfer, communication, and storage of clinical media is presently available, but many devices have non-secure storage/dissemination options enabled and lack user-control for permanently deleting digital files. In addition, data uploaded onto server systems commonly cross legal jurisdictions. Many physicians are not comfortable with the practice, citing security, privacy, and confidentiality concerns as well as uncertainty in regards to regional regulations governing this practice.1 Due to concern for patient privacy and confidentiality it is therefore incredibly important to limit the unsecure or undocumented acquisition or dissemination of clinical photographs. To assess the current state of this topic, Heyns et al. have reviewed the accessibility and completeness of provincial and territorial medical regulatory college guidelines.2 Categories identified as vital and explored in this review included: Consent; Storage; Retention; Audit; Transmission; and Breach. While each regulatory body has addressed limited aspects of the overall issue, the authors found a general lack of available information and call for a unified document outlining pertinent instructions for conducting clinical photography using a smartphone and the electronic transmission of patient information.2 The discussion of this topic will need to be ongoing and it is important that physicians are aware of applicable regulations, both at the federal and provincial levels, and how these regulations may impact the use of personal devices. The best practices supported here aim to provide physicians and healthcare providers with an understanding of the scope and gravity of the current environment, as well as the information needed to ensure patient privacy and confidentiality is assessed and protected while physicians utilize accessible clinical photography to advance patient care. Importantly, this document only focusses on medical use (clinical, academic, and educational) of clinical photography and, while discussing many core concepts of patient privacy and confidentiality of information, should not be perceived as a complete or binding framework. Additionally, it is recommended that physicians understand the core competencies of clinical photography, which are not described here. The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) suggests that the following recommendations be implemented, as thoroughly as possible, to best align with the CMA policy on the Principles for the Protection of Patient Privacy (CMA Policy PD2018-02). These key recommendations represent a non-exhaustive set of best practices - physicians should seek additional information as needed to gain a thorough understanding and to stay current in this rapidly changing field. KEY RECOMMENDATIONS 1. CONSENT * Informed consent must be obtained, preferably prior, to photography with a mobile device. This applies for each and any such encounter and the purpose made clear (i.e. clinical, research, education, publication, etc.). Patients should also be made aware that they may request a copy of a picture or for a picture to be deleted. * A patient's consent to use electronic transmission does not relieve a physician of their duty to protect the confidentiality of patient information. Also, a patient's consent cannot override other jurisdictionally mandated security requirements. * All patient consents (including verbal) should be documented. The acquisition and recording of patient consent for medical photography/dissemination may be held to a high standard of accountability due to the patient privacy and confidentiality issues inherent in the use of this technology. Written and signed consent is encouraged. * Consent should be considered as necessary for any and all photography involving a patient, whether or not that patient can be directly recognized, due to the possibility of linked information and the potential for breach of privacy. The definition of non-identifiable photos must be carefully considered. Current technologies such as face recognition and pattern matching (e.g. skin markers, physical structure, etc.), especially in combination with identifying information, have the potential to create a privacy breach. * Unsecure text and email messaging requires explicit patient consent and should not be used unless the current gold standards of security are not accessible. For a patient-initiated unsecure transmission, consent should be clarified and not assumed. 2. TRANSMISSION * Transmission of photos and patient information should be encrypted as per current-day gold standards (presently, end-to-end encryption (E2EE)) and use only secure servers that are subject to Canadian laws. Explicit, informed consent is required otherwise due to privacy concerns or standards for servers in other jurisdictions. Generally, free internet-based communication services and public internet access are unsecure technologies and often operate on servers outside of Canadian jurisdiction. * Efforts should be made to use the most secure transmission method possible. For data security purposes, identifying information should never be included in the image, any frame of a video, the file name, or linked messages. * The sender should always ensure that each recipient is intended and appropriate and, if possible, receipt of transmission should be confirmed by the recipient. 3. STORAGE * Storing images and data on a smart-device should be limited as much as possible for data protection purposes. * Clinical photos, as well as messages or other patient-related information, should be completely segregated from the device's personal storage. This can be accomplished by using an app that creates a secure, password-protected folder on the device. * All information stored (on internal memory or cloud) must be strongly encrypted and password protected. The security measures must be more substantial than the general password unlock feature on mobile devices. * Efforts should be made to dissociate identifying information from images when images are exported from a secure server. Media should not be uploaded to platforms without an option for securely deleting information without consent from the patient, and only if there are no better options. Automatic back-up of photos to unsecure cloud servers should be deactivated. Further, other back-up or syncing options that could lead to unsecure server involvement should be ascertained and the risks mitigated. 4. Cloud storage should be on a Canadian and SOCII certified server. Explicit, informed consent is required otherwise due to privacy concerns for servers in other jurisdictions. 5. AUDIT & RETENTION * It is important to create an audit trail for the purposes of transparency and medical best practice. Key information includes patient and health information, consent type and details, pertinent information regarding the photography (date, circumstance, photographer), and any other important facts such as access granted/deletion requests. * Access to the stored information must be by the authorized physician or health care provider and for the intended purpose, as per the consent given. Records should be stored such that it is possible to print/transfer as necessary. * Original photos should be retained and not overwritten. * All photos and associated messages may be considered part of the patient's clinical records and should be maintained for at least 10 years or 10 years after the age of majority, whichever is longer. When possible, patient information (including photos and message histories between health professionals) should be retained and amalgamated with a patient's medical record. Provincial regulations regarding retention of clinical records may vary and other regulations may apply to other entities - e.g. 90 years from date of birth applies to records at the federal level. * It may not be allowable to erase a picture if it is integral to a clinical decision or provincial, federal, or other applicable regulations require their retention. 6. BREACH * Any breach should be taken seriously and should be reviewed. All reasonable efforts must be made to prevent a breach before one occurs. A breach occurs when personal information, communication, or photos of patients are stolen, lost, or mistakenly disclosed. This includes loss or theft of one's mobile device, texting to the wrong number or emailing/messaging to the wrong person(s), or accidentally showing a clinical photo that exists in the phone's personal photo album. * It should be noted that non-identifying information, when combined with other available information (e.g. a text message with identifiers or another image with identifiers), can lead to highly accurate re-identification. * At present, apps downloaded to a smart-device for personal use may be capable of collecting and sharing information - the rapidly changing nature of this technology and the inherent privacy concerns requires regular attention. Use of specialized apps designed for health-information sharing that help safeguard patient information in this context is worth careful consideration. * Having remote wipe (i.e. device reformatting) capabilities is an asset and can help contain a breach. However, inappropriate access may take place before reformatting occurs. * If a smartphone is strongly encrypted and has no clinical photos stored locally then its loss may not be considered a breach. * In the event of a breach any patient potentially involved must be notified as soon as possible. The CMPA, the organization/hospital, and the Provincial licensing College should also be contacted immediately. Provincial regulations regarding notification of breach may vary. Approved by the CMA Board of Directors March 2018 References i Heyns M†, Steve A‡, Dumestre DO‡, Fraulin FO‡, Yeung JK‡ † University of Calgary, Canada ‡ Section of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Calgary, Canada 1 Chan N, Charette J, Dumestre DO, Fraulin FO. Should 'smart phones' be used for patient photography? Plast Surg (Oakv). 2016;24(1):32-4. 2 Unpublished - Heyns M, Steve A, Dumestre DO, Fraulin FO, Yeung J. Canadian Guidelines on Smartphone Clinical Photography.
Documents
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License of the Medical Council of Canada (LMCC)

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy516
Last Reviewed
2017-03-04
Date
1992-08-19
Topics
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Resolution
GC92-09
That the Canadian Medical Association, while recognizing that the provincial/territorial licensing authorities have the ultimate authority regarding licensure requirements in their respective jurisdictions, wishes to reaffirm the principle that any rights and privileges that will be accorded to holders of the revised License of the Medical Council of Canada (LMCC) should be conferred on all physicians who completed their LMCC prior to the new requirements, including portability of eligibility for licensure.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2017-03-04
Date
1992-08-19
Topics
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Resolution
GC92-09
That the Canadian Medical Association, while recognizing that the provincial/territorial licensing authorities have the ultimate authority regarding licensure requirements in their respective jurisdictions, wishes to reaffirm the principle that any rights and privileges that will be accorded to holders of the revised License of the Medical Council of Canada (LMCC) should be conferred on all physicians who completed their LMCC prior to the new requirements, including portability of eligibility for licensure.
Text
That the Canadian Medical Association, while recognizing that the provincial/territorial licensing authorities have the ultimate authority regarding licensure requirements in their respective jurisdictions, wishes to reaffirm the principle that any rights and privileges that will be accorded to holders of the revised License of the Medical Council of Canada (LMCC) should be conferred on all physicians who completed their LMCC prior to the new requirements, including portability of eligibility for licensure.
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Goods and Services Tax (GST)

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy619
Last Reviewed
2016-05-20
Date
1992-08-19
Topics
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Resolution
GC92-19
That the Canadian Medical Association, on behalf of its members and divisions and on the basis of its recent review of evidence on the impact of the Goods and Services Tax on Canadian physicians, continue its efforts to negotiate a tax rebate or such other arrangements so as to afford physicians the same fair treatment as is received by municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2016-05-20
Date
1992-08-19
Topics
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Resolution
GC92-19
That the Canadian Medical Association, on behalf of its members and divisions and on the basis of its recent review of evidence on the impact of the Goods and Services Tax on Canadian physicians, continue its efforts to negotiate a tax rebate or such other arrangements so as to afford physicians the same fair treatment as is received by municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals.
Text
That the Canadian Medical Association, on behalf of its members and divisions and on the basis of its recent review of evidence on the impact of the Goods and Services Tax on Canadian physicians, continue its efforts to negotiate a tax rebate or such other arrangements so as to afford physicians the same fair treatment as is received by municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals.
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