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SJHH / Patients & Visitors/ Privacy at St. Joe's

Privacy at St. Joe's

Protecting Patient Privacy

We want you to feel safe and comfortable receiving care at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton ("SJHH"). We work hard to ensure your privacy because trust is an essential component of excellent care.

We recognize that visiting a hospital as a patient is often an anxious time. We provide access to your personal health information to those who need to know to provide care, including: physicians, nurses, technicians, therapists, pharmacists and other health professionals. We also use your personal health information to meet our administrative, operational, and legal duties - including patient billing and quality of care reviews.

St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton’s privacy program is committed to managing and regulating how we collect, use, disclose, retain, dispose of and protect your personal health information in accordance with Ontario’s Personal Health Information Protection Act (“PHIPA”). Please review our Privacy Policy and Statement of Information Practices for an overview of how we manage your personal health information.

While we do maintain some paper health records, most of your personal health information here at SJHH is stored electronically, primarily in “Dovetale” -- our clinical information system. We implemented Dovetale as a tool to improve patient care, to facilitate timely communication within your care team, and to support access to patient information in one secure and private system. Anyone authorized by SJHH to access, use, or handle personal health information must complete training, sign confidentiality agreements, and commit to appropriate use of your information every time they sign into the Dovetale system. Access to Dovetale is provided solely for authorized healthcare or authorized administrative purposes, or where permitted or required by law.  

All system access is logged and monitored by the Privacy Office. Inappropriate access is investigated, and patients will be notified of privacy breaches in most cases. Privacy breaches may also be reported to the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario and to appropriate regulated health professional colleges. If you have questions or concerns regarding the privacy of your personal health information, please contact the SJHH Privacy Office at 


Requesting or Revising a Consent Directive

Some patients may feel they require additional restrictions on access to their personal health information. You have a right to request that a consent directive, or “lockbox” be placed on your personal health information, to limit who may access your records for provision of care. We recommend that you contact the Privacy Office to discuss your concerns, and to determine whether or not a consent directive will effectively address them. 

Once in effect, a consent directive requires health care providers to obtain your express consent before accessing your personal health information, unless you are unable to provide consent and access to the information is necessary to avert serious bodily harm. 

Once you have determined that a Consent Directive may be appropriate for you, you may submit your request by completing the form below.
Click here for the Consent Directive Request Form

You may modify or withdraw your consent directive at any time by contacting the Privacy Office and completing the form below.
Click here for the Consent Directive Revision Form

*Please note:  Consent Directives only apply to clinical use of personal health information, and SJHH may still use or disclose your personal health information to meet administrative requirements and legal obligations.

Please review page two of our Consent Directive Request Form for additional detail regarding the risks and benefits of restricted access to your personal health information. The SJHH Privacy Office will be happy to answer your questions and to assist you with this process.

To restrict access to your personal health information held in provincial or regional eHealth systems such as the Ontario Laboratory Information System or ClinicalConnect, you must contact the administrators of those systems directly.

Virtual Care

St. Joe’s is offering virtual care to make sure that we can continue to care for our patients safely and effectively. This means that we will be using video and audio technologies for some patient visits, rather than asking you to present to your clinic in person. Please keep in mind that not all visits are suited for virtual care, and your care team will determine whether this mode of care is appropriate for you.

While St. Joe’s takes all reasonable steps to ensure the ongoing privacy and security of virtual care sessions, there are inherent privacy and security risks that personal health information may be intercepted or unintentionally disclosed during electronic communications or virtual care visits. SJHH virtual care sessions are not recorded, but they will be documented in your electronic health record.

If you are concerned about engaging in virtual care, you may request to be seen in person. Please follow up with your care team accordingly.

Before your virtual visit, your clinic will obtain your consent to communicate electronically.

Additionally, your care provider will obtain your consent to engage in in the virtual care session by informing you of the below content, and asking whether you agree to proceed in the session:

St. Joe’s has taken steps to protect the privacy and security of patient health information shared during virtual care visits, and we do not record these virtual care sessions. However, just like online shopping or email, virtual visits may still carry some inherent privacy and security risks that your health information may be intercepted or unintentionally disclosed. Technical difficulties such as internet connection quality may also impact the effectiveness of our communication. We want to make sure you understand this before we proceed. In order to improve privacy, you should also take steps to participate in this virtual care visit in a private setting and should not use an employer’s or someone else’s computer/device as they may be able to access your information. If you would like more information, please review the MyDovetale Patient Guide on St. Joe’s website.  If it is determined you require a physical exam, you may still need to be assessed in person.You should also understand that virtual care is not a substitute for attending the Emergency Department on site if urgent care is needed.


Patient Satisfaction Surveys

St. Joe’s is dedicated to providing the best quality care to our patients and we value your lived experience and feedback. To connect with our patients, we work with an independent organization called NRC Health. NRC Health acts on our behalf to gather feedback about your experience with the care you received, our facilities and our physicians, staff and volunteers.

Many other local hospitals also collaborate with NRC Health – however, when working with us at St. Joe’s, they are required to abide by our privacy and confidentiality practices, in addition to their own which can be found here. A limited and specific amount of your personal information (such as name, date of birth, contact information, and the department you were last seen in) is disclosed to NRC Health to enable them to contact you.

If you were a patient in any of the following areas, you may be contacted by NRC Health.

  • CTU Central
  • CTU West
  • CTU North
  • Nephrology
  • RTU
  • Chest
  • Head & Neck
  • 6 Surgical
  • 7 Surgical
  • The Emergency Department

You can expected to be contacted by mail, email or in writing. Participation in the survey is voluntary, and if you choose to respond, your feedback will be kept confidential. Once NRC gathers sufficient data, they provide reports to our Quality Department about where we may have opportunities to improve the care and services we provide to you.

If you do not wish to be contacted to participate in a satisfaction survey, please email advising us of such.

To learn more about our Quality, Planning, & Performance Improvement Department, please click here.

Fundraising Solicitations

St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton Foundation is dedicated to supporting St. Joe’s by raising funds for research, education, and the improvement of patient care. Unless you tell us not to, we will give your name and mailing address to the SJHH Foundation for fundraising.  

If you do not wish to receive solicitations by the SJHH Foundation, please email advising us of such.

To learn more about the SJHH Foundation, please click here.