We consider the protection of the personal information of each client (including potential clients) to be a key part of our high level of service. Privacy of personal information is an important principle to West Lake Clinic. We are committed to collecting, using and disclosing personal information responsibly and only to the extent necessary for the services we provide. We strive to be open and transparent regarding how we handle personal information. This document describes our privacy policies.
What is Personal Information?
Personal information is information about an identifiable individual. It includes information that relates to an individual’s personal characteristics (e.g., gender, age, income, home address or phone number, family status), and personal health information (e.g., physical and mental health history, health conditions, health services received by them); or, activities and views (e.g., opinions expressed by an individual, an opinion or evaluation of an individual). Public information found in directories and listings, or business names, addresses and/or contact numbers, is not considered to be personal information.
Who We Are
West Lake Clinic includes at the time of writing one Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner – David Ip, and occasional clinic assistants. (Other practitioners who rent space in the Clinic may have their own privacy policies.) We use a number of consultants and agencies that may, in the course of their duties, have limited access to personal information we hold. These include accountants and bookkeepers, auditors, insurance claims representatives, medical professionals, lawyers and computer consultants. From time to time, we also have TCM interns registered in formal TCM or Acupuncture training programs. We restrict their access to any personal information we hold as much as is reasonably possible. We also have their written assurance that they follow appropriate privacy principles.
We have adopted, as corporate policy, the following ten personal information privacy principles stated in the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Model Code for the Protection of Personal Information.
1. Accountability – We will identify individuals in our Clinic who are to be specifically responsible for our compliance with the CSA Code. Their responsibilities will include making sure that third parties who process personal information on our behalf will comply with the CSA Code.
2. Reason for Collection – We will only collect and use personal information about our clients to identify them, to communicate with them, to protect the Clinic and its clients against error and fraud, to understand what products and services our clients want, to improve the quality of our products and services, and to provide information about our products and services to our clients. We will not disclose any personal information concerning our clients to anyone else and we will not permit anyone else to use personal information about our clients for any purpose without the client’s consent.
Like all health practitioners, we collect, use and disclose personal information in order to serve our clients. For our clients, we collect personal information for these purposes:
- To maintain communications with clients.
- To provide health treatment. For example, we collect information about a client’s health history, including their family history, physical condition and function and social situation in order to help us assess what their health needs are, to advise them of their options and then to provide the health care they choose to have.
- To obtain a baseline of health and social information so that in providing ongoing health services we can identify changes that occur over time. It would be rare for us to collect such information without the client’s express consent, but this might occur in an emergency (e.g., the client is unconscious) or where we believe the client would consent if asked and it is impractical to obtain consent (e.g., a family member passing a message on from our client and we have no reason to believe that the message is not genuine).
- To obtain payment from clients or paying agencies, including insurers and government.
About Members of the General Public
For members of the general public, our primary purposes for collecting personal information are to provide notice of special events (e.g., a seminar or conference) or to make them aware of health services in general or our clinic in particular. For example, while we try to use work contact information where possible, we might collect home addresses, fax numbers and email addresses. We try to obtain consent before using any such personal information, but where this is not, for any reason, possible, we will upon request immediately remove any personal information from our distribution list.
About Employees, Contract Staff, Volunteers and Students
For people who are employed or contracted to do work for us (e.g., temporary workers), our primary purpose for collecting personal information is to ensure we can contact them in the future (e.g., for new assignments) and for necessary work-related communication (e.g., sending out paycheques, year-end tax receipts). Examples of the type of personal information we collect for those purposes include home addresses and telephone numbers. It is rare for us to collect such information without prior consent, but it might happen in the case of a health emergency (e.g., a SARS outbreak) or to investigate a possible breach of law (e.g., if a theft were to occur in the clinic). If employees, contract staff, volunteers or students wish a letter of reference or an evaluation, we will collect information about their work-related performance and provide a report as authorized by them.
Related and Secondary Purposes
Like most organizations, we also collect, use and disclose information for purposes related to or secondary to our primary purposes. The most common examples of our related and secondary purposes are as follows:
- To invoice clients for goods or services that were not paid for at the time, to process credit card payments or to collect unpaid accounts.
- To advise clients that their product or service should be reviewed (e.g., to ensure a product is still functioning properly and appropriate for their then current needs and to consider modifications or replacement).
- To advise clients and others of special events or opportunities (e.g., a seminar, development of a new service, arrival of a new product) that we have available.
- Our clinic reviews client and other files for the purpose of ensuring that we provide high quality services, including assessing the performance of our staff. In addition, external consultants (e.g., auditors, lawyers, practice consultants, voluntary accreditation programs) may on our behalf do audits and continuing quality improvement reviews of our Clinic, including reviewing client files and interviewing our staff.
- Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners are not regulated in Saskatchewan. However, the practitioners at West Lake Clinic are licensed by licensing bodies in provinces where the practice of acupuncture or TCM is regulated by law, who may inspect our records and interview our staff as a part of their regulatory activities in the public interest, or are members of established professional TCM associations with published standards of practice. David Ip is licensed by the College of Acupuncturists of Alberta (CAA) and a member in good standing of Provincial Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Society (Saskatchewan). In addition, as professionals, we will report serious misconduct, incompetence or incapacity of other practitioners, whether they belong to other organizations or our own. Also, our organization believes that it should report information suggesting serious illegal behaviour to the authorities. External regulators have their own strict privacy obligations. Sometimes these reports include personal information about our clients, or other individuals, to support the concern (e.g., improper services). Also, like all organizations, various government agencies (e.g., Canada Revenue Agency, Information and Privacy Commissioner, Human Rights Commission, etc.) have the authority to review our files and interview our staff as a part of their mandates. In these circumstances, we may consult with professionals (e.g., lawyers, accountants) who will investigate the matter and report back to us.
- The cost of some goods/services provided by the Clinic to clients is paid for by third parties (e.g., SGI, private insurance). These third-party payers often have your consent or legislative authority to direct us to collect and disclose to them certain information in order to demonstrate client entitlement to this funding.
- Clients or other individuals we deal with may have questions about our goods or services after they have been received. We also provide ongoing services for many of our clients over a period of months or years for which our previous records are helpful. Each practitioner retains client information for a minimum of five years after the last contact to enable us to respond to those questions and provide these services (Alberta legislation which governs our licensed practitioners also requires us to retain our client records).
- If West Lake Clinic or its assets were to be sold, the purchaser would want to conduct a “due diligence” review of the Clinic’s records to ensure that it is a viable business that has been honestly portrayed to the purchaser. This due diligence may involve some review of our accounting and service files. The purchaser would not be able to remove or record personal information. Before being provided access to the files, the purchaser must provide a written promise to keep all personal information confidential. Only reputable purchasers who have already agreed to buy the organization’s business or its assets would be provided access to personal information, and only for the purpose of completing their due diligence search prior to closing the purchase.
You can choose not to be part of some of these related or secondary purposes (e.g., by declining to receive notice of special events or opportunities, by paying for your services in advance). We do not, however, have much choice about some of these related or secondary purposes (e.g., external regulation).
Mostly we collect your personal information directly from you. Sometimes we may obtain information from other sources, e.g., from your physician, pharmacist or other practitioners with your permission or without in emergencies; from your employer, insurer or other agency, institution or government source, accepting responsibility to pay for the services you receive. Before collecting, using or disclosing any personal information, we will ensure that we have your consent in an appropriate form.
Normally, we ask for your consent in writing, but in some circumstances we may accept your oral consent. Sometimes your consent may be implied through your conduct with us. In the course of obtaining your consent, we will explain any diagnosis we make, and the proposed treatment plan if treatment is indicated, so that you have sufficient information upon which to provide us with an informed consent to treatment.
You have a right to revoke your consent at any time. If you need clarification, we will be pleased to respond.
4. Limiting Collection
We will collect personal information only for the purposes stated above unless we receive consent from the individual to collect it for another purpose.
5. Limiting Use, Disclosure, Retention and Destruction of Personal Information
You have the right to be informed about the anticipated disclosures of your personal information. We will use and disclose an individual’s personal information only for the purposes stated above, subject to such limitations as you may impose upon us.
Under certain circumstances we may be obliged, justified or permitted to disclose your personal information without your knowledge or consent. For example,
- When we are required by law or ordered to do so by a court order, warrant or subpoena;
- Where we believe, upon reasonable grounds, that there is an imminent risk to an identifiable person or group of death or serious bodily harm;
- Where it is alleged that a member, associate or employee of West Lake Clinic is guilty of a criminal offence, civilly liable in a civil action or guilty of malpractice or misconduct, or under investigation by a licensing body pursuant to its responsibilities under the Alberta Health Professions Act, or the Bylaws or Codes of Ethics of bodies of which we are members;
- If the collection, use or disclosure is clearly in your interest and consent cannot be obtained in a timely way;
- Where it is necessary to establish or collect fees;
- When we refer you to another practitioner, physician or other caregiver or health institution or special care home to support the provision of health services to you;
- To your next-of-kin or someone with whom you have a close personal relationship and you have not expressed a contrary intention;
- To a successor health practitioner;
- De-identified personal information for health research;
in which cases we will not disclose more information than is required.
We need to retain personal information for some time to ensure that we can answer any questions you might have about the services provided and for our own accountability to external regulatory bodies. However, we do not want to keep personal information too long in order to protect your privacy.
We keep our client files for about five years. Our client and contact directories are much more difficult to systematically destroy, so we remove such information when we can if it does not appear that we will be contacting you again. However, if you ask, we will remove such contact information right away. We keep any personal information relating to our general correspondence (e.g., with people who are not clients) newsletters, seminars and marketing activities for about one year after the newsletter ceases publication or a seminar or marketing activity is over.
Your records and personal information will not be destroyed, except when it is consistent with law, and ethical and limitation standards required or recommended by the Provincial Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Society (Saskatchewan) and the College of Acupuncturists of Alberta. We destroy paper files containing personal information by shredding. We destroy electronic information by deleting it and, when the hardware is discarded, we ensure that the hard drive is physically destroyed. Alternatively, we may send some or all of the client file to our client.
6. Accuracy and updating
We will maintain all personal information in our possession in as accurate, complete and up-to-date form as is necessary for the purposes for which it is to be used. If during the course of our relationship with you any of your information changes, please inform us so that we can make any necessary changes.
If you believe there is a mistake in the information, including inaccuracy or incompleteness, you have the right to ask for it to be corrected. This applies to factual information and not to any professional opinions we may have formed. We may ask you to provide documentation that our files are wrong. Where we agree that we made a mistake, we will make the appropriate correction and notify anyone to whom we sent this information. If the information cannot be changed, your request and our decision will be noted in your chart, and we will forward that statement to anyone else who received the earlier information.
7. Safeguards – Protecting Personal Information
We understand the importance of protecting personal information. For that reason, we take all reasonable precautions to protect personal information in our possession from unauthorized access or alteration or from inadvertent destruction by security safeguards appropriate to the sensitivity of the information.
- Traditional Chinese Medicine client files are electronically identified only by an anonymous number. Personal identification information is not recorded electronically in your health and treatment files. Electronic records that legally require your personal identification information such as invoices and receipts, prescription labels, etc., are not electronically linked to your health and treatment records.
- Paper information is either under supervision or secured in a locked or restricted area.
- Electronic hardware is either under supervision or secured in a locked or restricted area at all times. In addition, passwords, security software, encryption technology and firewalls are used on computers. All of our cell phones are digital as these signals are more difficult to intercept.
- Paper information is transmitted through sealed, addressed envelopes or boxes by reputable companies.
- Electronic information is transmitted either through a direct line or has identifiers removed or is encrypted.
- External consultants and agencies with access to personal information must enter into confidentiality agreements with us.
We will make this Corporate Privacy Statement readily available in our Clinic and on our web-sites. Individuals may make inquiries about personal information privacy issues by contacting our Information Officer, David Ip by telephone (306-790-9378), by mail (West Lake Clinic, 105 McMurchy Avenue, Regina SK S4R 3G5) or by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
9. Individual Access
With only a few exceptions, you have the right to see what personal information we hold about you. Often all you have to do is ask. We can help you identify what records we might have about you. We will also try to help you understand any information you do not understand (e.g., short forms, technical language, etc.). We will need to confirm your identity, if we do not know you, before providing you with this access. Such requests may be subject to a nominal disbursement fee. Individuals may request access to their personal information in our possession by contacting David Ip at West Lake Clinic.
If there is a problem we may ask you to put your request in writing. If we cannot give you access, we will tell you within 30 days if at all possible and tell you the reason, as best we can, as to why we cannot give you access.
Exceptions to access may include:
- Information that is prohibitively costly to provide;
- Information that has been destroyed;
- Information that contains personal information about a third party and which cannot be severed from disclosure;
- Disclosure of personal information which could reasonably be expected to endanger your mental or physical health and the safety of another person;
- Information which could identify a third party;
- Other legal and security reasons which relate to the enforcement of any law of Saskatchewan or Canada.
10. Challenging Compliance
If you wish to make a formal complaint about our privacy practices, you may make it by contacting our Information Officer, David Ip. He will acknowledge receipt of your complaint, ensure that it is investigated promptly and that you are provided with a formal written decision with reasons.
If you have a concern about the professionalism or competence of our services or the mental or physical capacity of any of our professional staff we would ask you to discuss those concerns with us. If your concern is about acupuncture and we cannot satisfy your concerns, you are entitled to contact either one or both of:
Registrar for Acupuncturists
College of Acupuncturists of Alberta
#201, 9612 – 51 Avenue NW
Edmonton AB T6E 5A6
Phone: 780-466-7787| Fax 780-466-7251 Email: email@example.com
Information and Privacy Commissioner for Saskatchewan
503 – 1801 Hamilton Street
Regina, Saskatchewan S4P 4B4
Phone: 306-787-8350; 1-877-748-2298 | Fax 306-798-1603
For more general inquiries, the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Canada oversees the administration of the privacy legislation in the private sector. The Commissioner also acts as a kind of ombudsman for privacy disputes. The Information and Privacy Commissioner can be reached at:
112 Kent Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1H3; Phone: 1-800-282-1376 | Fax 1-613-947-6850; www.priv.gc.ca
How Can I Be Removed From Your Lists?
If you wish to discontinue contact with us by any or all of these methods, please notify us by any of the methods below and let us know which forms of contact you would like to be removed from.
Mail: David Ip, West Lake Clinic, 105 McMurchy Avenue, Regina SK S4R 3G5
WLC Revised November 2021