Provincial auditor’s report includes IT security issues for patient data from eHealth

A report from the Provincial Auditor recommends annual criminal background checks on all adults in a foster home, centralizing the IT network at eHealth and better maintenance planning for the Horizon School Division.

The Provincial Auditor’s report includes details on annual integrated, performance and follow-up audits of 60 different government agencies.

Judy Ferguson says eHealth needs to do much more to prevent unauthorized access to health information stored on and accessed by portable devises such as laptops and smart phones.

At the time of the audit, eHealth directly managed less than one-third of the almost 13 thousand portables computing devices with access to the eHealth IT network.

Ferguson reports that, “eHealth’s plan to manage health sector laptops is not sufficiently robust.” She says, “It does not contain sufficient detail on how to mitigate security threats and the vulnerabilities of laptops with access to the eHealth IT network.”

The audit also found that eHealth did not sufficiently monitor the network to protects against malicious software or mitigate risks of a successful attack on the network.

Foster Care
Ferguson says in one file they tested, they found that the Ministry of Social Services did not perform a background check on a foster home until 14 month after approving the foster family. As of March of 2019, there were 486 foster homes across the province with 856 children in care.

For the most part, the auditor shows the ministry had effective processes to monitor whether foster families provide a safe and secure environment.

But, the audit determined that the ministry needs to consistently complete background checks prior to approving new foster families; consistently conduct annual home safety checks and obtain annual criminal record declarations for approved families; and consistently conduct annual review reports.

The auditor would also like to see periodic criminal records checks, saying for 30 of the foster families tested, the foster homes were approved between three and 29 years ago which was the last time criminal record checks were completed.

Horizon School Division
The report says the Horizon School Division needs to do more to address maintenance at its 38 schools and four other facilities.

For example, the audit identified seven sprinkler and 19 fire alarm systems with unrepaired deficiencies more than a year after they were identified. Ferguson says Horizon’s schools are overall in poor condition, similar to the provincial average for schools. 87 per cent of the division’s schools are over 50 years old.

She says, “overall, Horizon needs to step back and determine if it is doing the right maintenance and enough maintenance to move its facility to satisfactory condition. Ferguson says her office has done almost a dozen different audits on maintenance at government buildings.

Each time there are significant areas of concern and Horizon School Division is no different.

Saskatchewan Health Authority employee absenteeism
On average, in 2018-19, the Saskatchewan Health Authority had to deal with 10.25 sick days claimed per employee province-wide.

The provincial auditor says excessive employee absenteeism prevents the SHA from delivering cost-effective healthcare services.

The auditor says the authority needs to: identify the role human resources should play in addressing employee absenteeism; consistently documents discussions and actions with employees who have excessive absenteeism; and analyse significant causes of employee absenteeism and report how it is addressing those causes.

Saskatchewan Health Authority medication management
The auditor’s report says the SHA still needs to document informed consent from long-term care residents or their designated decision-makers, for the use of medication as a restraint or when changes to high-risk medications are made.

Ferguson says that by August 31st of 2017, only nine of 17 recommendations from 2014 had been implemented in long-term care facilities in Kindersley and surrounding area.

By December of 2019, the authority had fully implemented five of the outstanding seven recommendations from 2014 which found the authority did not have effective processes in place related to medication management in Kindersley and surrounding area.


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