New emailing policy for VCH/PHC staff and physicians

There’s a new Emailing Policy at VCH and PHC, which is now in effect for all VCH and PHC staff and physicians. This replaces the previous policy, and allows the use of VCH or PHC email at work to communicate with clients, other staff and care providers and external parties.

Why is there a new policy?

Emailing is an important and sometimes the only practical way for us to communicate with our clients. However, emailing must be done in a way that protects our clients’ privacy and information. The VCH Information Privacy Office and PHC Information Access and Privacy Office worked with multiple stakeholders to ensure the policy is not only practical, but also addresses known privacy and security risks.

How does the new policy affect my work?

When emailing, ensure you’re following these instructions:

  • Confirm recipient: confirm the identity of the person you are emailing with before sending any personal or confidential information through email e.g. by verifying the person’s email address in person or over the phone, or asking the other person to send the initial email.
  • Small amounts of personal information are acceptable: while following the emailing guidelines, small amounts of personal information about individuals can be sent using regular email to provide care or conduct other health authority business. “Small amounts” generally means information, including health records, pertaining to a particular individual per message. Where large amounts of personal information must be sent e.g. entire patient charts or lists of patient information pertaining to more than 10 individuals, files must be encrypted. For secure transmission of datasets for quality improvement, research or other secondary uses, contact the VCH Data Release Management Office.
  • Retain client care records in chart: emails and attachments relating to client care that are of clinical significance must be retained and/or documented in the client’s chart, and then deleted from the email account.
  • Client notification: communicate to clients the common risks associated with emailing by forwarding them this link: vch.ca/emailtext.

Any questions?

The Emailing Policy, Guidelines and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) can be found on VCH Connect. Contact the Information Privacy Office at privacy@vch.ca or (604) 875-5568 with any questions about emailing.

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