I’m Kate Dewhirst.

I’m a lawyer who writes about legal issues affecting healthcare in Canada

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Democratizing health information

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That sounds lofty doesn’t it?

There is an important movement afoot in health care where recipients of health care services get better, faster, and more consistent access to their own health information.  The effect is democratizing health information.

When we give patients instant access to their information, they are better able to navigate their health journey. We change the power imbalance and we give patients information to make informed choices and expedite their care.

Timely access to information is one of the key ways teams can demonstrate respect for their patients.

Examples of democratizing health information include:

  • LifeLabs now allows individuals to register to receive their own laboratory test results directly so they do not have to wait to hear from their health care provider
  • Patient portals allow individuals to register to an online environment for parts of their health record where they can see their upcoming appointments and share their scans, reports, test results and other health information with whomever they choose
  • Individuals may use their own mobile devices to upload their health records to be able to share their information with their health care providers

This movement is wonderful – and not without negative impact.

With increased knowledge and access to information comes confusion. When individuals get their test results first, if they do not know how to interpret those results they can be distressed by the results without the benefit of in the moment explanation from a care provider.  This negative impact can be mitigated though by patient education and engagement.

In the interim phase as sharing information directly with patients becomes more prevalent there will be growing pains.  But I promise, the growth will be worth it.

I help Privacy Officers across the health sector and across the province of Ontario with their health privacy compliance.  If you have questions about this – give me a call!

If you want to register for my free upcoming Ask Me Anything Privacy Officer webinars – you can sign up for one or all of them by clicking on the dates below:

January 9 – 12 noon

February 6 – 9am

March 6 – 4pm

If you are ready to join my Privacy Officer training sign up here for course starting April 2019 or sign up for the next Advanced Privacy Officer training on June 18, 2019.


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Some of Kate’s recent and upcoming events

Team Privacy Training Events
February 12, 19, 26, 27, Mar 2, 9, 11, 24, 27

For Primary Care clinics, Hospitals, Community Agencies and Children’s Aid

Kate trains health professionals from many more health care organizations how being privacy-respectful can improve therapeutic relationships. More details...

Speaking event March 25, 2020

Osgoode Professional Development – Health Law Certificate

Kate joins the faculty for this training event. More details...

Primary care webinars: Employment Law Update & Legal Issues for EDs and Board members

Part of Kate’s monthly webinar series.

Our March webinar is on questions to ask your insurer and the April program is on changes to pregnant employees' positions.
Full details of the 2020 webinar series and registration here.

Health Privacy Officer training
April 28, 2020

For Privacy Officers within healthcare organisations.

This course focuses on how to become a more confident privacy officer and gives you the tools to document your privacy program. Full details and registration here...

Osgoode Health Privacy training
January 20 & 27 and February 3,10 & 18, 2020

Kate is the program chair for the Osgoode Certificate in Privacy in Healthcare.

This program explores the range of privacy interests that must be protected in the day-to-day treatment of patients, the development of information systems and the creation of institutional policies. More details...

Free healthcare privacy webinar - ask me anything!
March 4 (cancelled) but back April 1

Free webinars - advance registration needed

Whether you're an experienced privacy officer or new in the field, pick Kate’s brain for free for an hour, in this live webinar. No charge, but you’ll need to register in advance.

Kate Dewhirst Health Law

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My mission is bringing the law to life. I make legal theory understandable, accessible and fun! I’m available and love to work for all organizations in the healthcare sector across Ontario and beyond.

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