Docs have 'grave concerns' about eHealth review
Dr. Virginia Walley, president of the Ontario Medical Association. (SUPPLIED PHOTO)
Ontario’s doctors say they have “grave concerns” about a key review of eHealth by a government privatization guru.
Ontario Medical Association president Dr. Virginia Walley wrote to Ed Clark on Thursday to express the group’s concern about his review of the health records bureaucracy. Clark, the former TD Bank CEO who recommended the partial sale of Hydro One, was appointed Friday by Health Minister Eric Hoskins to look at the agency.
Clark’s been asked to find ways to appraise its potential to raise cash for the government as it tries to fund billions in infrastructure projects.
But Walley said patient privacy has to put before profit.
“To be absolutely clear, we are very concerned about any privatization that might occur without appropriate safeguards on patient data,” she said. “We hope that you will see our legitimate concerns on this very sensitive issue of patient privacy, particularly as government has given little attention to these matters over the last year.”
Walley says the government has gathered “massive” amounts of private patient data in recent years with no consent from people themselves. In the letter, she also asks to meet with Clark to discuss his review.
“The blunt reality is that we do not currently have a functional eHealth system that benefits patient care,” she said. “And it is unclear to us currently how your mandate from Minister Hoskins will help encourage or support this.”
Hoskins ruled out the sale of personal health information in a statement to the Toronto Sun.
“We are pleased the OMA agrees with us that patient information is not, will not, and never should be, up for sale,” Hoskins said Thursday. “That is what Mr. Clark’s written mandate already clearly states. There is no possibility of a sale or the commercial use of people’s health information.
“(eHealth’s) successes and challenges have been well documented, but we believe it’s also important for people to know exactly what has been created with all that effort over the past few years and what its value is.”
The OMA and Ministry of Health have been engaged in a bitter contract dispute for months. In August, doctors rejected a tentative deal reached between the province and OMA, throwing the entire process into disarray.