The COVID-19 pandemic changes the way physicians work. Some are required to self-isolate. All promote social distancing at clinics and facilities. Work needs to continue when remote from offices, clinics or facilities. Implications of these changes for physician responsibilities are acknowledged by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) and other groups.
Personal Computing Devices
Personal computing devices (laptop, notebook, tablet, desktop) may support clinical work when physicians take call from remote sites, or otherwise participate in the provision of healthcare services outside AHS facilities. Because identifiable personal health information could appear on data storage devices which, if stolen, could risk a privacy breach, it is essential that personal devices be configured in compliance with AHS policy and legislative requirement, including:
- Password protection with a strong and well maintained code
- Inactivity timeouts that re-challenge for a device password after automatic system suspend or sleep states
- Hard drive encryption
- Firewall protection
- File sharing off or appropriately protected
Encryption is a method of protecting information by converting it to a format that's unreadable by anyone except those with a special key (usually a very long password). If a person doesn’t have the key required to decrypt that data, the information remains inaccessible. All Windows operating system devices must have native hard drive encryption enabled (BitLocker). All Macintosh operating system devices must also have native hard drive encryption enabled (FileVault).
Remote Access to Applications
All physicians contemplating remote access to Alberta Health Services information assets must have valid AHS credentials, a RSA Security FOB and an ability to use Citrix Workspace to run applications through myapps.ahs.ca.
A guide describes and instructs about three strategies for working remotely: