Electronic health records pose challenges to privacy

Published in May 2011 in The International Journal of Person Centered Medicine, here is a read for health-care professionals who care about privacy

To serve and to protect ? Electronic health records pose challenges for privacy, autonomy and person-centered medicine 

ARTICLE ABSTRACT:

“This paper highlights potential challenges to privacy posed by electronic health records and proposes to increase patient involvement in maintaining the privacy of their data. Electronic health records are heavily promoted in the United States, rendering sensitive health information accessible and potentially jeopardizing patient privacy. Yet certain HIPAA regulations are consistently violated, suggesting that the Federal Government is unable to fully enforce privacy standards. On the other hand, proportionately there are few civilian complaints to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), implying that patients are unaware of privacy breaches, the means to report them, or both. Without permitting patient control over information, the proposed privacy system assumes that leakages will occur and offers to notify patients of breaches after the fact. This deprives patients of the right to defend their intimate details, which are more available to caretakers, employers, and insurers than ever. Our proposed solution is to render usage of patient information transparent by default, so that patients can monitor and control who is privy to what input. This will enhance patient empowerment, feeding into improved governmental control over health data.”

by

Talya Miron-Shatz MA PhDa and Glyn Elwyn MB BCh MSc FRCGP PhDb

a Founding Director, Center for Medical Decision Making, Ono Academic College, Israel; Lecturer, Marketing Department, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
b Professor of Primary Medical Care, Clinical Epidemiology Interdisciplinary Research Group, Department of Primary Care and Public Health, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK

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