Safeguarding Canadians’ Health Information through e-Prescribing

By Abigail Carter-Langford

Cyber attacks that affect the integrity of health care hit Canadians where it hurts most. That is why it is more critical than ever for prescribers, pharmacists and patients to choose trusted providers within the digital care space that prioritize privacy and security.

Safeguarding Canadians’ Health Information through e-Prescribing

Take the prescription process. e-Prescribing services like PrescribeIT® modernize the prescription process by enabling prescribers to electronically transmit a prescription directly from an electronic medical record (EMR) to the pharmacy management system of a patient’s pharmacy of choice. e-Prescribing also decreases the risk of privacy breaches due to fax transmission issues or unsecured email. Fax is the most common transmission tool used within health care, yet fax machines do not have any security or protection features to ensure patient data remains secure. There is no track record or accountability to show who has seen the information that comes through a fax machine, or a way of guaranteeing that data ends up in the right hands.

Conversely, digital tools like e-prescribing allow prescribers and pharmacists to know where the information on a prescription has been, who has seen it and whether it has arrived at the intended destination. In the same way Canadians have come to expect that their banking information will be safe throughout their banking journey, patients need the assurance that their health care information will be safe from end-to-end.

When talking about privacy, it is also important that a patient feels confident their information is being used only for the benefit of their own health care. Concerns that the information will be sold or otherwise exploited for profit are real among Canadians. Services like PrescribeIT® have data protection woven into their DNA and work closely with ministries and oversight bodies to prioritize transparency and the protection of patient data from commercial exploitation.

As we look beyond the pandemic, the question is no longer, “Will we continue to implement electronic tools like e-prescribing into our health system?” Canadians across the country have already answered with a resounding, “Yes.”

The question is now, “How do we implement these tools safely?” We need to anticipate, manage and counteract the risks of the digital world to ensure the benefits greatly outweigh them. When it comes to e-prescribing, this means investing in the latest security measures, and equipping prescribers and pharmacists with the tools they need to prioritize privacy and cybersecurity throughout the entire prescription process.

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About the author
Abigail Carter-Langford

Abigail Carter-Langford

Abigail Carter-Langford promotes Infoway’s commitment to addressing health information governance, including the privacy and security of personal health information, throughout the digital health industry and within Infoway. She is also responsible for Infoway’s risk management, compliance and legal functions. A Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) and Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP/C), she also holds a Masters’ in Health Law from Osgoode Hall Law School.