I’m Kate Dewhirst.

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

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

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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.


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Some of Kate’s recent and upcoming events

Team Privacy Training Events
October 16, October 24 and November 21

For Primary Care clinics, Children’s Aid and FHTs

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

Speaking event October 23, 2019

Osgoode Professional Development – Mental health Certificate

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

Primary care webinars: Managing Incapacity & Consent to Treatment

Part of Kate’s monthly webinar series.

Our October webinar is about managing incapacity, and the November title is Consent to Treatment.
Full details of the 2020 webinar series and registration here.

Advanced Privacy Officer training
December 10, 2019

For experienced Privacy Officers within healthcare organisations.

This one day training course focuses on how to handle difficult privacy situations using real-life (but anonymized) case studies and role-play. Full details and registration here...

Privacy Officer 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!
October 2, November 6 and December 4

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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