I’m Kate Dewhirst.

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

Kate Dewhirst Health Law - bringing the law to life. Meet Kate (in 13 seconds)

Can your patients trust you in the age of electronic privacy scandals?

Posted by

In the last few years, the public has heard A LOT of scary things about electronic privacy scandals.

In 2017, Equifax admitted their electronic records were compromised leaving millions of users’ financial information exposed.

In May 2017, the WannaCry Ransomware attack negatively impacted 19,000 healthcare appointments across the United Kingdom which response cost the NHS over £92 million. That cyber attack had a local impact at an Ontario hospital

In early 2018, Facebook users around the world were disturbed to find out their data may have been mined by a company called Cambridge Analytica. Seemingly benign answers to personality quizzes and content posted to Facebook accounts may have been utilized to target individuals to sway elections and public opinion. 

In May 2018, two of Canada’s largest banks were hacked and client data was stolen.

June 2018 brought the story of a Ontario health sector hack of home care records held for ransom

In November 2018, Canada Post admitted a privacy breach involving information of online cannabis consumers.

So it may not come as a surprise to you that there are a few people who are not exactly gung-ho about the miracle of electronic health records and the movement toward a Provincial integrated electronic health record for Ontario.

The scary context is important to remember.

Moving toward a Provincial health information system is essential. It’s vital to continuity of care and improving the quality of our healthcare service and experience. But it can also be disconcerting to people who care  about privacy and who are rightfully nervous about the potential risks associated with integration.

Remember these people when you are communicating the wonders of integrated health information.  Remember to take privacy seriously.  Remember to survey your patients and caregivers to hear about what excites and worries them about this new world.  Remember to focus on delivering messages that reassure and explain your safeguards. This effort will help you get the buy-in you need from the people you serve.  

Attention Privacy Officers …

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

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.


If you enjoyed this article please share it:


Previous and next posts from Kate:

Some of Kate’s recent and upcoming events

Health Privacy Officer training
April 28, 2020

For Privacy Officers within healthcare organizations - now totally online.

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...

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

Part of Kate’s monthly webinar series.

Our April program is on COVID-19 and the May program will address governance tips and tricks.
Full details of the 2020 webinar series and registration here.

Free healthcare privacy webinar - ask me anything!
the first Wednesday of every month (Next up: May 6 and June 3)

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.

Team Privacy Training Events
March 31, April 17, May 6, June 17

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...

Kate Dewhirst Health Law

Kate says:

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.

Subscribe to my mailing list and keep up to date with news:

Latest Tweets

Please watch this video. I am so moved by this. We need to know this and feel this to more forward together. https://t.co/X5xNSepj3o

04:46 PM Jun 1st

These are legal resources for healthcare organizations in Ontario responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.… https://t.co/HLiWbJNy2j

12:01 PM May 30th

[JUNE 4] Case Study: Difficult terminations Register now - webinars on legal topics for EDs and managers in primary… https://t.co/XfOPuCnBOx

12:02 PM May 29th

contact details

901 King Street West Suite 400 East Tower
Toronto Ontario M5V 3H5

(416) 855 9557

.