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From their semi-annual meeting in St. John’s, Newfoundland in September, the privacy commissioners of Canada resolved to take measures to ensure that personal health records (PHRs) encompass the highest privacy standards.

“Now is the time to build components of PHRs that enhance patient privacy and control,” the commissioners stated in a document describing the points of the resolution—The Promise of Personal Health Records—outlined here:

  1. Whether PHRs are developed by the private or public sector, the commissioners call on all developers to ensure that the applications meet the relevant laws and reflect privacy best practices.
  2. The commissioners encourage the government of Canada, and provincial and territorial governments, to accelerate the integration of PHR services that would allow patients to:

    a. access their own health information; 

    b. set rules for who should or should not be allowed to see their own personal  health information;

    c. express their wishes for how their health information is used by health researchers and others;

    d. receive privacy and security breach notification alerts; 
    e. see who has accessed their records;

    f. request that errors in their record be corrected; and

    g. gain access to resources and contacts in the health ministries and the privacy oversight offices to better address their privacy concerns.

  3. The commissioners call on Ministries of Health to keep commissioners and the public informed of their progress toward developing and implementing PHRs.

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