The IPC/Ontario issued an order on December 17th in which it noted an inconsistency in its treatment of OHIP billing information as personal information. It said:
As the parties have noted, a number of IPC orders have considered the issue of whether OHIP billings reveal personal information of doctors. In these orders, this office has concluded that OHIP billings that can be connected with specific doctors are their personal information. For example, in Order P-1502, the Commissioner found that payment to a physician for services rendered in connection with the prescription of home oxygen services was a “financial transaction” within the meaning of section 2(1)(b) of the Act, and therefore qualified as personal information. I followed this above approach in Order PO-3200.
Interestingly, the above approach can be contrasted with the treatment of other professionals whose billing information has been ordered disclosed under the Act. In Order PO-3207, I found that information about legal fees paid to a lawyer by a hospital was not exempt from disclosure under the personal privacy exemption, as it was not personal information. In Orders MO-2363 and MO-2927, among others, this office found that the details of fee arrangements between government institutions and professional consultants did not qualify as the personal information of the consultants.
Though making this note, it was unnecessary for the IPC to resolve the inconsistency or depart from its prior decisions to make the order. The information at issue related to payments made to group practice. The IPC held that, in the circumstances, the information did not reveal anything about an individual physician.