Privacy of personal information is very important at Life in Balance Therapy. We are committed to the responsible collection, use, and disclosure of personal information and only to the extent that is needed for the services we provide.
What is personal health information?
Personal characteristics (Gender, age, address, phone number, family status
Health (health history, health conditions, medications, prior or concurrent health services)
Activities and views (Opinions expressed by an individual or evaluations of the individual)
Business related information (i.e., business address and phone number) is not personal information and is not protected by privacy legislation.
Why do we collect personal information?
We collect, use and disclose personal information in order to serve our clients. Typically, we collect information for the purposes of assessment and therapy.
We collect information about a client’s history which includes: family history, developmental history, school, social, and work history, and emotional functioning. This is necessary in order to help assess clients’ needs, to advise them of their options and, should they choose, to provide therapy.
Psychological assessment is intended to answer questions about an individuals’ intellectual, academic, social and/or emotional functioning. This is typically accomplished through standardized and informal testing, interview(s), questionnaire(s), observation, and review of previous records and reports.
We Collect Personal Information: Related and Secondary Purposes
Like most organizations, Life in Balance Therapy (LIBT) also collects, uses and discloses information for purposes related to, or secondary to, our primary purposes. The most common examples of our related / secondary purposes are as follows:
LIBT invoices clients for services that were not paid for at the time, or to collect unpaid accounts.
LIBT reviews client and other files for the purpose of ensuring that we provide high quality services, including assessing the performance of our staff. In addition, external consultants (e.g., auditors, lawyers, practice consultants, voluntary accreditation programs) may on our behalf do audits and continuing quality improvement reviews of our Clinic, including reviewing client files and interviewing our staff. All persons involved in these activities are required by law to maintain the confidentiality of any accessed information.
Psychologists are regulated by the College of Psychologists of Ontario who may inspect our records and interview our staff as a part of their regulatory activities in the public interest. In addition, as professionals, we will report serious misconduct, incompetence or incapacity of other practitioners, whether they belong to other organizations or our own. Also, our organization believes that it should report information suggesting serious illegal behavior to the authorities. External regulators have their own strict privacy obligations. Sometimes these reports include personal information about our clients, or other individuals, to support the concern (e.g., improper services). Also, like all organizations, various government agencies (e.g., Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, Information and Privacy Commissioner, Human Rights Commission, etc.) have the authority to review our files and interview our staff as a part of their mandates. In these circumstances, we may consult with professionals (e.g., lawyers, accountants) who will investigate the matter and report back to us. All persons involved in these activities are required by law to maintain the confidentiality of any accessed information.
The cost of some goods/services provided by the organization to clients is
paid for by third parties (e.g., OHIP, WSIB, private insurance, Assistive Devices Program). These third-party payers must have the client’s consent or legislative authority to direct us to collect and disclose to them certain information in order to demonstrate a client’s entitlement to this funding.
Clients or other individuals with whom we deal may have questions about our services at some point after they have been received. We also provide ongoing services for many of our clients over a period of months or years for which our previous records are helpful. We retain our client information for a minimum of ten years after the last contact (or in the case of children –10 years after their 18th birthday) to enable us to respond to those questions and provide these services (our regulatory College also requires us to retain our client records).
PROTECTING PERSONAL INFORMATION
We understand the importance of protecting personal information. Records relating to all clinic clients are confidential. In general, this means that no information contained in records is provided to a third party without written consent of the client. [There are some specific ethical or legal circumstances when this confidentiality requirement is waved. For example, clinicians shall reveal information when there is a suspicion of child or elder abuse, when clients pose a significant danger to themselves or others, when clients report sexual abuse by a health care professional, or when the court issues a subpoena for records or testimony.]
Clinicians at LIBT use OWL, on online system for billing and note taking that is in accordance with privacy legislation. Staff members are allowed to access only that information for which they have a “need- to-know.” This means that staff members who are not involved with your care are not allowed to access other information. All personnel are trained in the need for privacy and confidentiality.
Clinicians are also trained in the Clinic’s privacy policies and procedures, including prevention of record loss and unauthorized access. Personnel who know a client personally are required to declare this and to remove themselves from access to that client’s record unless there is an emergency or unless the client has given express consent for access.
In addition, we take the following precautions when storing or moving client information:
Electronic notes are stored by “OWL,” a Toronto based company that operates within Ontario’s’ privacy legislation.
Paper information is secured in a locked or restricted area.
Electronic hardware is either under supervision or secured in a locked or restricted area at all times. In addition, passwords are used on computers.
Paper information is transmitted through sealed, addressed envelopes.
Electronic information has identifiers removed.
RETENTION AND DESTRUCTION OF PERSONAL INFORMATION
We need to retain personal information for some time to ensure that we can answer any questions you might have about the services provided and for our own accountability to external regulatory bodies. However, we do not want to keep personal information too long in order to protect your privacy.
We keep our client files for about ten years or, in the case of children, for ten years after they turn 18 years of age.
We destroy paper files containing personal information by shredding. We destroy electronic information by deleting it and, when the hardware is discarded, we ensure that the hard drive is physically destroyed.
YOU CAN LOOK AT YOUR INFORMATION
With only a few exceptions, you have the right to see what personal information we hold about you. Often all you have to do is ask. We can help you identify what records we might have about you. We will also try to help you understand any information you do not understand (e.g., short forms, technical language, etc.). We will need to confirm your identity, if we do not know you, before providing you with this access. We reserve the right to charge a nominal fee to cover our time for such requests.
If there is a problem we may ask you to put your request in writing. If we cannot give you access, we will tell you within 30 days if at all possible and tell you the reason, as best we can, as to why we cannot give you access.
If you believe there is a mistake in the information, you have the right to ask for it to be corrected. This applies to factual information and not to any professional opinions we may have formed. We may ask you to provide documentation that our files are wrong. Where we agree that we made a mistake, we will make the correction and notify anyone to whom we sent this information. If we do not agree that we have made a mistake, we will still agree to include in our file a brief statement from you on the point and we will forward that statement to anyone else who received the earlier information.
If you have a concern about the professionalism or competence of our services or the mental or physical capacity of any of our professional staff, we would ask you to discuss those concerns with us. However, if we cannot satisfy your concerns, you are entitled to complain to our regulatory body:
College of Psychologists of Ontario
110 Eglinton Ave W, Suite 500
Toronto, Ontario M4R 1A3
Phone: (416) 961-8811
This policy is made under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. This is a complex Act and provides some additional exceptions to the privacy principles that are too detailed to set out here. There are some rare exceptions to the commitments set out above.
For more general inquiries, the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Canada oversees the administration of the privacy legislation in the private sector. The Commissioner also acts as a kind of ombudsperson for privacy disputes. The Information and Privacy Commissioner can be reached at:
Information & Privacy Commissioner
112 Kent Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1H3
Phone: (613) 995-8210 | 800-282-1376 | Fax: (613) 947-6850 | TTY (613) 992-9190
For other inquiries regarding the access to healthcare records, contact the University’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FIPP) at:
McMurrich Building, Room 201
12 Queen’s Park Crescent West
Toronto, ON M5S 1A8
Phone: (416) 946-7303 | Fax: (416) 978-6657