The following questions and answers outline how Pathways complies with British Columbia’s Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) legislation. Privacy Officer contact information is also provided, should you have further questions.
What is Pathways used for?
The primary use of Pathways is to facilitate efficient, high quality patient referrals. In addition, Pathways provides the following:
- A range of approved resources, including but not limited to physician resources, patient information resources, community services, allied health supports, Pearls, calculators and forms.
- The results of Division Shared Care work, typically with an emphasis on improving the efficiency and quality of referrals.
- Urgent clinical information notices that health care providers need to be aware of (e.g. disease outbreaks).
What privacy legislation, if any, is applicable to Pathways?
As a not-for-profit society, Pathways is governed by the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA). Pathways makes available limited personal and contact information to authorized users.
Who is authorized to use Pathways?
Members of a Division of Family Practice. Typically, Division members include Family Practitioners, Hospitalists, and ER physicians. In addition, locums and medical students working in a Division member’s office, as well as medical residents, are also authorized to use Pathways during their period of employment.
Office staff (e.g. medical office assistant) working in the offices of Division members who use Pathways.
Nurse practitioners and midwives are also eligible to use Pathways, though will be charged an annual fee if they require full access to specialist profiles.
Specialists, specialty clinics (that have a physician attached), and their staff who are located within the geographic boundaries of Divisions that have launched Pathways.
Pathways Administrators and other Division or Provincial Pathways staff who support or have a need to access Pathways, either on a permanent or temporary basis.
PCN team members approved by the Divisions of Family Practice
Authorized users are limited to:
However, we recognize that some clinics do not fall within the parameters of this Authorized Use policy and still would benefit from having their information made available on Pathways. In this case, such clinics have the ability to be granted a 'limited access' user status, where they are able to access and edit their clinic profile on Pathways but are unable to access the rest of the site.
How can I be sure that access to Pathways is limited to authorized users?
Access to Pathways is limited to authorized and verified users who have been assigned an access key. Users provide their own password, which must meet industry standards. Pathways Administrators are provided comprehensive Privacy and Security training before distributing access keys.
What medical practice/ clinic information is collected?
The only medical practice/ clinic data that is collected is the information that is required to make effective, efficient referrals, as requested in authorized data collection survey forms. This includes a combination of the following public & personal information:
- Office contact information
- Hours of operation
- Procedures done at the practice/ clinic
- Referral information
- Languages spoken in the office
- Patient instructions
- Cancellation policies
- Clinic/hospital associations
How do you ensure that information about my practice or clinic has been collected with my consent?
When collecting this information, Pathway Administrators will identify themselves as contacting you on behalf of Pathways and clarifying that the information is being collected for the purposes of listing on Pathways. You will then have the option of choosing to participate or not.
How is this information collected?
This information is collected and/or verified with the medical practice or clinic directly, via an authorized survey and accompanying letter outlining the purpose for which the information will be used, the fact that providing their information implies consent for it to be put on Pathways and who they can contact if they have questions or concerns. If required, data collection may also involve phone calls and/or personal office visits in order to ensure correct, complete practice/ clinic data has been collected.
What steps are taken to maintain the accuracy of the information about my practice or clinic?
Maintaining the accuracy of the practice or clinic information is a priority for Pathways and to that end a number of strategies are used. These include:
- Upon initial data entry, providing each specialist or clinic with an access key and encouraging them to log onto Pathways, review their information and make any needed corrections.
- Thereafter encouraging specialist/ clinics to regularly review their information. Approximately every 6 months each health care provider on Pathways is sent a link to their own information with a request that they update it as needed.
- Encouraging Pathways users to send the Pathways Administrators information about practices/ clinics in their area and/or querying the accuracy of the information in Pathways. These notifications and queries are investigated with the practice or clinic and their information is updated accordingly.
How long will my information be retained?
The information will be retained as long as your practice or clinic is in operation or until you indicate that you no longer wish to have your practice or clinic information listed on Pathways. Upon your request, it will no longer be available to users and your information will be placed in a separate, secure database of removed data.
Medical providers who retire or leave their practice, or practices/ clinics who close remain on Pathways for 2 years with very limited information identifying their current status. Thereafter their information is moved to the database containing removed data.
All removed data is automatically backed up for 1 year so that, if desired, a medical provider/ clinic can review the data that was previously displayed in Pathways. After 1 year the medical provider/ clinic’s data is permanently removed from all backups.
Where is this information stored?
Pathways information is currently stored on Amazon Web Services, which is located in the United States and in Canada.
What steps are taken to ensure that personal information provided by physicians and clinics is properly safeguarded?
Pathways maintains industry standard privacy and security protocols. These include:
- Maintenance of a list of authorized users by Pathways Administrators
- Requiring users to enter a valid access key and set a password prior to being able to access Pathways
- Compliance with industry standard database security protocols, and ongoing reviews of our privacy and security policies
Pathways places a strong emphasis of maintaining the trust of the medical community by demonstrating compliance with sound privacy and security practices.
If I have a question or complaint related to privacy or would like to confirm the accuracy and completeness of my information, who can I speak to?
You can contact the Pathways Privacy Officer: