NORTH YORK MEDICAL GROUP, 704-240 DUNCAN MILL ROAD, TORONTO, ON, M3B 3S6, CANADA   Phone: (416) 497-0880 | Fax: (416) 497-2650

Telephone Health Advisory Service: 1-866-553-7205

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   email policy  

We are pleased to provide patients with e-mail communication services at North York Medical Group. Please read this E-mail Policy and complete our Electronic Communication Consent Form to take advantage of this service.  

As previous, we feel that the most appropriate method to diagnose and manage your health concerns is through an office visit.  However, the following situations may be appropriate for email:

  1. Lab or Diagnostic Imaging requisitions

  2. Work forms (if discussed previously with the physician)

  3. Notes for Massage Therapy or other notes required by insurance (if discussed previously with the physician)   

Email is not to be used for appointment booking purposes, or to discuss time sensitive matters.

We may choose to send bi-yearly updates for your information such as flu shot clinic dates, holiday hours, or other general information.  

 

Electronic communication offers many benefits, but requires safeguards that differ from other forms of communication, such as paper document, telephone and fax.  Our office staff and physicians use reasonable means to protect the security and confidentiality of e-mail information sent and received. However, because of the risks identified below, we cannot guarantee the security and confidentiality of e-mail communication.

EMERGENCY PROBLEMS

  • E-mail should never be used for emergency problems. In the event of an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest Hospital Emergency Room.

 

URGENT PROBLEMS

  • E-mail should not be used for urgent problems. In these cases, the patient should call our office at 416-497-0880 to book an appointment.  

  • If it is after hours, the patient should call the After Hours Information Line at 416-849-1334 to access the North York Family Health Team After Hours Clinic or Tele-health Advisory Services at 1-866-553-7205 to speak with a nurse.

 

RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH USING E-MAIL

  • Employers and online services may have a legal right to inspect and keep e-mails that pass through their system.

  • E-mail is easier to falsify than handwritten or signed hard copies. In addition, it is impossible to verify the true identity of the sender, or to ensure that only the recipient can read the e-mail once it has been sent.

  • E-mails can introduce viruses into a computer system, and potentially damage or disrupt the computer.

  • E-mail can be forwarded, intercepted, circulated, stored or even changed without the knowledge or permission of the physician or the patient. E-mail senders can easily misaddress an e-mail, resulting in it being sent to many unintended and unknown recipients.

  • E-mail is indelible. Even after the sender and recipient have deleted their copies of the e-mail, back-up copies may exist on a computer or in cyberspace.

  • Use of e-mail to discuss sensitive information can increase the risk of such information being disclosed to third parties.

  • E-mail can be used as evidence in court.

PATIENT OBLIGATIONS WHEN CONSENTING TO E-MAIL

Consent to the use of e-mail includes agreement with the following conditions:

  • The patient shall not use e-mail for medical emergencies, urgent problems or other time sensitive matters.

  • If the patient’s e-mail requires or invites a response from the staff or physicians, and the patient has not received a response within a reasonable time period, it is the patient’s responsibility to follow up to determine whether the intended recipient received the e-mail and when the recipient will respond.

  • All e-mails to or from the patient concerning diagnosis or treatment will be imported into and made part of the patient’s electronic medical record. Because they are part of the medical record, other individuals authorized to access the medical record, such as administrative staff, will have access to those e-mails.

  • Medical staff may forward e-mails internally to members of the Physician’s staff if necessary for diagnosis, treatment, reimbursement, and other handling. Staff will not, however, forward e-mails to independent third parties without the patient’s prior written consent, except as authorized or required by law.

  • The patient should not use e-mail for communication regarding sensitive medical information, such as information regarding sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS/HIV, mental health, developmental disability, or substance abuse.

  • The patient is responsible for informing the office of any types of information the patient does not want to be sent by e-mail, in addition to those set out above.

CONDITIONS OF USING E-MAIL

The physician will use reasonable means to protect the security and confidentiality of e-mail information sent and received. However, because of the risks outlined above, the physician cannot guarantee the security and confidentiality of e-mail communication, and will not be liable for improper disclosure of confidential information that is not the direct result of intentional misconduct of the physician. Thus, patients must consent to the use of e-mail for patient information. Consent to the use of e-mail includes agreement with the following conditions:

  • E-mails to or from the patient concerning diagnosis or treatment may be printed in full and made part of the patient’s medical record. Because they are part of the medical record, other individuals authorized to access the medical record, such as administrative staff, will have access to those e-mails.

  • The physician may forward e-mails internally to the physician’s staff and to those involved, as necessary, for diagnosis, treatment, reimbursement, health care operations, and other handling. The physician will not, however, forward e-mails to independent third parties without the patient’s prior written consent, except as authorized or required by law.

  • Although the physician will endeavor to read and respond promptly to an e-mail from the patient, the physician cannot guarantee that any particular e-mail will be read and responded to within any particular period of time. Thus, the patient should not use e-mail for medical emergencies or other time-sensitive matters.

  • E-mail communication is not an appropriate substitute for clinical examinations.

  • The patient is responsible for following up on the physician’s e-mail and for scheduling appointments where warranted.

  • If the patient’s e-mail requires or invites a response from the physician and the patient has not received a response within a reasonable time period it is the patient’s responsibility to follow up to determine whether the intended recipient received the e-mail and when the recipient will respond.

  • The patient should not use e-mail for communication regarding sensitive medical information, such as sexually transmitted disease, AIDS/HIV, mental health, developmental disability, or substance abuse. Similarly, the physician will not discuss such matters over e-mail.

  • The patient is responsible for informing the physician of any types of information the patient does not want to be sent by e-mail, in addition to those set out in the bullet above.

  • The physician is not responsible for information loss due to technical failures.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMMUNICATION BY E-MAIL

  • Limit or avoid using an employer’s computer.

  • Inform the physician of any changes in patient’s e-mail address.

  • Include in the e-mail: the category of the communication in the e-mail’s subject line, for triage purposes (e.g., ‘prescription renewal’); and the name of the patient in the body of the e-mail.

  • Review the e-mail to make sure it is clear and that all relevant information is provided before sending to the office.

  • Inform the physician that the patient received the e-mail.

  • Take precautions to preserve the confidentiality of e-mails, such as using screen savers and safeguarding computer passwords.

  • Withdraw consent only by e-mail or written communication to the physician.

  • Should the patient require immediate assistance, or if the patient’s condition appears serious or rapidly worsens, the patient should not rely on e-mail. Rather, the patient should call the physician’s office for consultation or an appointment, visit the physician’s office or take other measures as appropriate (such as going to the nearest emergency department).