COVID-19 is placing stress on Canada’s public health system. Heart Space is starting to offer virtual care to make sure that we can continue to care for our patients safely and effectively. This means that we will be using video and audio technologies for individual and group sessions rather than asking people to come into the office/studio. Some of these technologies are provided by the Province like the Ontario Telemedicine Network. Others have been provided by vendors like Jane and ZOOM to help to provide a safe space for group meetings and discussions with your care provider during these difficult times. Below you will find more information about the risks of telemedicine and how to mitigate these risks.
Risks of using electronic communication
We will use reasonable means to protect the security and confidentiality of information sent and received using the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN), JaneApp, or Zoom platform. However, because of the risks outlined below, we cannot guarantee the security and confidentiality of electronic communications:
• Use of electronic communications to discuss sensitive information can increase the risk of such information being disclosed to third parties.
• Despite reasonable efforts to protect the privacy and security of electronic communication, it is not possible to completely secure the information.
• Employers and online services may have a legal right to inspect and keep electronic communications that pass through their system.
• Electronic communications can introduce malware into a computer system, and potentially damage or disrupt the computer, networks, and security settings.
• Electronic communications can be forwarded, intercepted, circulated, stored, or even changed without the knowledge or permission of the Physician or the patient.
• Even after the sender and recipient have deleted copies of electronic communications, back-up copies may exist on a computer system.
• Electronic communications may be disclosed in accordance with a duty to report or a court order.
• Videoconferencing using services such as Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime may be more open to interception than other forms of videoconferencing.
Conditions of using the electronic communication
• The Physician will not forward electronic communications to third parties, including family members, without your prior written consent, except as authorized or required by law.
• You agree to inform the Physician of any types of information you do not want sent via the services by notifying the Physician in writing.
• Some services might not be used for therapeutic purposes or to communicate clinical information. Where applicable, the use of these services will be limited to education, information, and administrative purposes.
• The Physician is not responsible for information loss due to technical failures associated with your software or internet service provider.
Instructions for communication using the electronic communication services
To communicate using the services, you must:
• Reasonably limit or avoid using an employer’s or other third party’s computer.
• Inform the Physician of any changes in the patient’s email address, mobile phone number, or other account information necessary to communicate via the Services.
• Take precautions to preserve the confidentiality of electronic communications, such as using screen savers and safeguarding computer passwords.
• Withdraw consent only by email or written communication to the Physician.
• If you require immediate assistance, are suidical, or if your condition appears serious or rapidly worsens, you should not rely on these Services! Rather, you should take other measures as appropriate, such as calling 911, a help line (416-408-HELP (4357)) for mental health concerns or going to an Emergency Department (CAMH for Mental Health concerns).
If you believe you may have COVID-19 you should start with this self-assessment tool which will help you decide on next steps: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/self-assessment/#q0