Digitized Medical Waiver Forms Help Canada Reopen Healthcare Offices
It’s finally happening – you can go see your chiropractor. Be prepared to sign a medical waiver form. Healthcare operations shuttered for months started turning lights back on this week. But open doors bring added risk. How will Canadian healthcare providers protect employees and clients beyond basic precautions? With medical waiver forms – and they are strongly recommended for regulated healthcare providers.
Canada’s provincial governments are responsible for setting guidelines to reopen. Under provincial Occupational Health and Safety Acts, employers must take every reasonable precaution to protect workers. In Ontario, for example, four provincial Health and Safety associations collaborated to compile over 60 workplace safety guidelines – indexed sector by sector.
From orthodontists to dietitians, individual colleges like the Royal College of Dental Surgeons, set ground rules for reopening within provincial guidelines. Many protocols are now familiar: plexiglass barriers, limited people in waiting areas, masks, and clear signage instructing everyone of new protective measures. One important recommendation stands out as a powerful shield against contagion, the medical waiver form.
What is a Medical Waiver Form?
The waiver, a corona-specific intake form, is a questionnaire that determines whether a person has knowingly come into contact with or themself has symptoms of the virus. Before ever entering the premises, the medical waiver adds another layer of protection for everyone working for or planning to visit a “personal service establishment”, as it is referred to in the B.C. Order of the Provincial Health Officer.
Remote transactions are recommended for medical waiver forms
According to the Ministry of Health, it’s advisable for health facilities to conduct active screening prior to an appointment. Gather personal health information by phone, or more efficiently, send the medical waiver by email and have the client complete and e-sign the form before coming in.
Protect your employees and patients by assessing the risk of contact, based on client responses – confirming an appointment only if exposure meets your threshold. Contactless exchange of this information is key to reducing the chances of transmission. It’s poor practice to gather necessary health information after a potentially infected person walks through the door.
Simplify gathering medical waiver information
The process of sending waivers in advance is made easy by standardizing forms with a template. Reusable templates automate end-to-end data gathering with common fields and a clear click-to-sign signature box. They also allow for additional personal information to be collected. Freeform fields or a specific “add an attachment” feature is an option should you require a health card or proof of a negative COVID test result, for example.
Or try Powerforms. Powerforms are a simple way to create on-demand, self-serve documents for signature. Accessible with a single click on a link, clients are taken to your website to answer a self-assessment questionnaire, like this one used by Alberta Health Services. A customized, signable form is then generated from the answers; the patient e-signs to complete the waiver.
Digitized medical waiver forms offer the best method for contactless active screening.
- Remote information gathering prior to office visits
- 24/7 access to waiver forms for client convenience
- Customization of forms suited to your practice
- Use of templates and automation for better efficiency
- End-to-end secure encryption of personal health information
- Responsible protection for in-person visits
- Compliance with best health practices
Protected Health Information (PHI)
Protected Health Information (PHI) is mandatory for healthcare professionals. It’s both a responsibility and a legal obligation. In Canada, PHIPA, the Personal Health Information Act, and PIPEDA, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, govern the collection, use, and disclosure of that information. If you gather any personal health data, you’re considered a custodian and must comply with federal guidelines to protect it.
For commercial health service providers in Canada, it’s important to know that PHI is PHI regardless of the source. If, for example, a Canadian chooses to download an app to manage their health and wellness, personal data entered into the app is considered protected information. In the US, HIPAA does not protect this personal data.
Personal health information refers to any identifying information about an individual, including but not limited to:
- Health card number
- Family history
- Physical or mental condition
- Results of testing or examination
- Eligibility for healthcare coverage
Digitized gathering of personal health information provides compliant, end-to-end encryption of patient records that, by law, must be protected.
Data privacy is mandatory for medical waiver forms
A key principle of PIPEDA is the secure storage of personal data. Although not required across the country, many Canadians are most comfortable with their data residing within Canada – often referred to as “on shore” storage. Some provinces have enacted legislation to ensure their data is kept here. British Columbia and Nova Scotia have these regulations. Ontario’s data privacy laws require only healthcare information be stored within the country.
It’s common practice among personal information custodians to retain all Canadian data in data centres in Canada. This is especially important for personal service providers who want to demonstrate compliance with Canada’s federal data privacy laws, though they may not be obligated to do so.
As the country reopens, all Canadians will be relying heavily on businesses to do the right thing. Choosing the best tools will result in healthier interactions. Remote screening options with digitized medical waivers and keeping personal data secure inside our borders are among the many precautions that will keep us all safer.