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Province Bans Health Data Use for MR

April 15 2008

In British Columbia, Canada, new legislation has been passed which according to Health Minister George Abbott, prohibits disclosure of information from electronic databases for market research and allows individuals access to their own health records and medical information.

Abbott says that British Columbia is the first province in Canada to create such a legal framework governing access and privacy for electronic health information databases. While other provinces have legislation governing personal health information, British Columbia intends to extend the existing Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act with its new e-Health (Personal Health Information Access and Protection of Privacy) Act.

The act specifically bars the disclosure of information from electronic databases for market research purposes, while creating a Data Stewardship Committee that will evaluate requests for the disclosure of data for health research or planning purposes.

'As e-Health information becomes a more widely accessible and used tool in our health-care system, we want to ensure British Columbia has a framework that allows for the most effective medical and health-research related use of electronic health database information,' said Abbott. 'But we also have to ensure that the framework surrounding use of electronic health information is to the highest standards of privacy protection.'

Individuals will be able to block access to their own information from all health professionals, unless they are incapacitated in an emergency or have given their consent.

The Act will also introduce legislative changes so medical researchers can approach individuals regarding health research studies. Individual requests by researchers to contact people for health research from database information will require the specific approval of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

The province of British Columbia is on the web at www.gov.bc.ca .

In the US, healthcare firms IMS Health, Wolters Kluwer Health and Verispan recently halted the District of Maine's Prescription Restraint Law, LD-4 which sought to ban the use of physician prescribing information for marketing purposes.

All articles 2006-22 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas unless otherwise stated.

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