The University of Ottawa Health Services (UOHS) communicates with patients in several different ways. Email is our preferred option but telephone and postal service communication are used as a default should an email address not be provided or is rendered “inactive”.
Email communication has many advantages. It allows for timely communication of important information in a way that remains clear and easy to access. It provides a written record that can be referred to as needed. Emails are cost effective, can be sent at any time of the day or night, and people don’t need to be present to receive the email.
UOHS will use email communication to share information we think may be helpful to you. This will include appointment reminders, requests to see your provider, changes to hours of operation, updates on programs and services, health promotion and some patient care topics. Your provider may also provide recent test results. Please note that we have set up safeguards to protect your personal health information from theft, loss, unauthorized access, copying, modification, use, disclosure and disposal.
Although we recognize that some of our patients would like to email their UOHS provider directly, we are unable to offer this service at this time. If you would like to communicate with your provider or any member of your health care team, we ask that you call our clinic’s main phone number (613-564-3950). Our call centre staff will forward the message directly to your provider.
While email communication has many advantages, it also comes with a few risks that we want to be sure you are aware of. Please review the following information carefully – we would like to be sure that you understand and accept these risks before agreeing to communicate with your provider via email:
- Email communication is not considered to be private or secure.
- Your employer may choose to monitor or store emails that pass through their system.
- Email is easier to falsify than handwritten or signed hard copies. In addition, it is impossible to verify the true identity of the sender, or to ensure that only the recipient can read the email once it has been sent.
- Any email you receive could potentially introduce a virus into a computer system, and potentially damage or disrupt the computer.
- Emails can be forwarded, intercepted, circulated, stored or even changed without the knowledge or permission of the physician or the patient.
- An email sender could misaddress an email, resulting in it being sent to an unintended and unknown recipient.
- Email is indelible. Even after the sender and recipient have deleted their copies of the email, back-up copies may exist on a computer or in cyberspace.
To mitigate some of these risks, both parties will assume the following responsibilities:
In practice, the clinic requires that patients verify their demographic information, which includes email addresses, at every visit to confirm accuracy.
All patient emails are stored on our EMR platform which is securely password-protected. Communication between all electronic devices, used at the clinic, and the clinic’s server are encrypted using “Secure Socket Layer” (SSL) protocols. Firewalls are also used on our systems to prevent unauthorized access to our networks and to stop Spam, viruses, and other unwanted content before they reach our infrastructure and users.
As the patient, you must ensure that you are providing us with your email address that is private, and not accessed by anyone other than yourself. You should ensure that your email is protected with encryption software, or if you waive this encryption requirement, understand that this may increase the risk of your privacy being violated. Should you change your email address, please update the clinic as soon as possible. If you choose to provide us with your email address, please remember to add email@example.com to your “safe sender” list when setting up your junk email options.
We thank you for the continued privilege of working together towards your health and wellness.