How Canadian Dentists Can Comply with PIPEDA

Connect the Doc Icon
The Connect the Doc Team
June 14, 2023
min. read

As modern technology provides more options for sending and receiving communication and storing essential patient data, dentists have a responsibility to protect their patient’s privacy. This is why governments in Canada introduce important legislation and laws to regulate and protect the way health information is shared and stored. 

In Canada, there are a number of privacy laws and legislation that help entities protect their individuals’ privacy and data: PIPEDA, PHIPA, PHIA, HIA, etc. This article will also discuss the laws that dentists should pay close attention to, the key highlights of PIPEDA, and suggest ways Canadian dentists can comply with it. 

What is PIPEDA?

PIPEDA is an acronym that stands for the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. 

This law was enacted by the Canadian parliament in April 2000 to govern the collection, use, and sharing of personal information, including digital or electronic documents, during commercial activities. In 2002, it was expanded to include the health sector. 

At its core, PIPEDA enforces the need for dental practices to get patients’ consent when they collect, use or disclose their information. Patients also have the right to access and challenge the accuracy of the information practices have on them. Unless patients give their consent, their data cannot be used for any purpose other than the reason for which they were collected in the first place. 

What is PHIPA?

PHIPA is an acronym that stands for the Personal Health Information Protection Act. This legislation was enacted by the Ontario Legislative Assembly in November 2004. It applies to healthcare professionals and organizations in Ontario, including dentists, and governs the collection, use and disclose of health information. 

What are PHIA and HIA?

PHIA is an acronym that stands for the Personal Information Protection Act. This Alberta legislation, which came into effect in January 2004, gives individuals the right to access information corporations have on them. 

HIA is a different Alberta legislation that stands for Health Information Act and governs how health professionals, specifically, collect, use and disclose patients’ health information. 

How Do Canadian Provinces Approach These Regulations?

There are other legislations across the different Canadian provinces that regulate health information in those provinces. However, as a federal privacy law, PIPEDA applies to all provinces. 

That said, if your province has a privacy law or health information laws that have been deemed by the federal government to be substantially similar to PIPEDA, you are exempt from PIPEDA. 

Provinces like B.C, Alberta, and Quebec have privacy laws while New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Ontario have health information laws that have been deemed similar, or substantially similar, to PIPEDA. If you work in these provinces, you are exempt from PIPEDA, but it is highly recommended that you follow its principles regardless. 

If you’re unsure what privacy laws apply to you, you can use this tool to find out

5 Ways Dentists Can Comply with PIPEDA 

  1. Educate Yourself 

The first step you can take to comply with PIPEDA as a dentist is to familiarize yourself with this privacy law. The more knowledgeable you are about the regulation, the better policies you can implement at your dental practice to comply with the rules. You can learn all about PIPEDA here.

  1. Appoint a Compliance Manager

To ensure you don’t cross any lines, you can work with a compliance agency or assign someone on your team to be a compliance manager. This agency’s or person’s responsibility is to examine your policies from time to time and ensure you comply with PIPEDA. 

  1. Get Consent

As a rule of thumb, you should always ask patients for their permission when collecting their information. When collecting said information, state clearly what the information will be used for and with whom it will be shared—and don’t deviate from what you’ve stated. 

  1. Update Patient Information Regularly

It’s essential that the information you have about your patients are up to date and accurate when you use them. So, be sure to confirm your patient’s information after each appointment or at least once a year. 

  1. Secure Patient’s Data

Your responsibility is to safeguard your patient’s information, so they aren’t stolen or misused—leverage cybersecurity tools to protect the information you have on file and the computer systems you use. 

Compliance with PIPEDA, or other privacy laws, helps ensure your patients’ information is safe and secure. Mismanagement of patients’ data can lead to distrust and attrition. So, be sure to stay informed and put the right measures in place. 

To learn more dental practice management tips, you can read more articles by Connect the Doc.

Disclaimer: The individuals who maintain this blog work at Connect the Doc. The information, comments, and links posted on this blog do not constitute legal advice. No client relationship has been or will be formed by any communication(s) to, from, or with the blog and/or the blogger. For legal advice, contact an attorney actively practicing in your jurisdiction. Do not send any confidential or privileged information to the blogger; neither Connect the Doc, nor the blogger will assume any liability or responsibility for it. If you send any information, documents, or materials to the blog, you permit the blogger to include them on or in the blog. No information, documents, or materials you send to the blog will be considered confidential or privileged by Connect the Doc. Also, no such information, documents, or materials will be returned to you. All decisions relating to the content belong to the blogger.

Interested in working with us?

See firsthand how Connect the Doc can fill your pipeline with new patients.

Book a Free Demo