The Hospital Authority (HA) is to begin issuing digital medical certificates from March 6, as an alternative to hand-written paper sick leave notes.

Hospital Authority digital sick leave certificates
Hospital Authority digital sick leave certificates. Photo: GovHK.

“The new version of the medical certificate will adopt a digital signature without requiring a doctor to sign manually,” HA Chief Manager (Cluster Performance) Dr Larry Lee said, according to a Monday press release. “The digital signature is of the same legal effect as a traditional manual signature. The digitisation of the medical certificate is an important milestone in the development of the smart hospital. It streamlines the process of telehealth services so as to enable the HA to enhance patient satisfaction.”

Patients’ digitally signed medical notes, along with any attendance certificate if needed, will be automatically stored in the HA’s MyHealth mobile app.

hospital authority logo (3)
The Hospital Authority logo. Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

The HA Chief Medical Informatics Officer Joanna Pang said the move will make for a better experience for patients, and – for those receiving a teleconsultation – the certificate will be delivered immediately.

The digital sick notes will feature an encrypted QR code to combat fraud.

Printed medical certificates with a digital signature will still be available, the HA said.

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Tom Grundy

Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.