ITGS Syllabus

Friday, March 02, 2007

Topic 202

Electronic health records: privacy, data analysis, public health by Simon

The enhanced availability of health information in an electronic format is strategic for industry-wide efforts to improve the quality and reduce the cost of health care, yet it brings a concomitant concern of greater risk for loss of privacy among health care participants. The conflicting goals of accessibility and security for electronic medical records and non-technical and technical aspects that constitute a reasonable security solution would be the basis of the knowledge. With guiding policy and current technology, an electronic medical record may offer better security than a traditional paper record.

Personally identifiable health information about individuals and general medical information is increasingly available in electronic form in health databases and through online networks. The spreading of electronic data within the modern health information infrastructure presents significant benefits for medical providers and patients, including: enhanced patient autonomy, improved clinical treatment, advances in health research and public health control, and modern security techniques.

However, it also presents new legal challenges in 3 related areas: privacy of identifiable health information, reliability and quality of health data, and tort-based liability(a person who seeks or receives legal advice and reasonably relies on it.) Protecting health information privacy (by giving individuals control over health data without severely restricting warranted communal uses) directly improves the quality and reliability of health data (by encouraging individual uses of health services and communal uses of data), which diminishes tort-based liabilities (by reducing instances of medical malpractice or privacy invasions through improvements in the delivery of health care services resulting in part from better quality and reliability of clinical and research data).

Following an analysis of the relativity of these 3 areas and discussing existing and proposed health information privacy laws, recommendations for legal reform concerning health information privacy are on the issue.

These include:

(1) Recognizing identifiable health information as highly sensitive,

(2) Providing privacy safeguards based on fair information practices,

(3) Empowering patients with information and rights to consent to disclosure

(4) Limiting disclosures of health data absent consent,

(5) Incorporating industry-wide security protections,

(6) Establishing a national data protection authority, and

(7) Providing a national minimal level of privacy protections.

As a conclusion, the main concerns over the public health record is that the patient's have the choices over the legality of the electronic data, if somehow there is a possible way for the patient to access the data, and that data to be privatized by its patient. However, the data's quality enhancement purpose, the custodian should have the legal right to also access the health data. The balance between efficiency and equity(with privacy) is the main focus of adjustment.


Electronic health records: privacy, data analysis, public health by Marek

As written before in many of the papers submitted in ITGS, the benefits of having an electronic database in which to store records are many. For example, the ability to compress and organize millions of files within minutes as well as stockpile enough paperwork to fill a library into one little machine, just to name a few. Then we take into circumspect that it allows many of the world’s medical professionals to communicate with each other even, if they are halfway across the globe, and have view the files of their expert counter-parts in order to help save more lives. Overall, it sounds like an excellent plan that we should be glad to have thought up of.


Like always in this modern day and age, confidentiality is the moral question at hand. As humans, none of us are infallible, even the doctors that we entrust our lives to. Should such a doctor feel the need to abuse his or her power, the consequences could be devastating for everyone. The humiliation felt by the person in question, the devastating blow to the hospital that employed the doctor, and the complete and utter ridiculing of the families of both parties involved. After such an embarrassment, the victim would most probably take legal action against both the doctor and the medical institution for its lax security on its medical network.

But why do people do such things. Why do people find it necessary to look into the files of patients? The answer is simple: Human curiosity. To satisfy their base desires of acquiring knowledge, people actually dare to break into the files containing extremely private medical information about patients. This maybe because they feel a rush knowing that they have broken through the hospital’s security measures and have managed to read extremely personal information about certain people they may or may not know.

Many hospitals have realized this latent danger and have taken measure to insure that events like this would be rare, or not even occur at all. These included stringent regulations, such as the input of passwords, several firewalls, blocking potential hackers, and doctor-patient restrictions, in which doctors can only observe medical files of patients that they are currently taking care of.

All in all, it seems that even our health may be exposed to the cyber-thieves of the modern day. The best we can do to protect ourselves against these foul individuals is have an equally strong bond of trust and friendship toward the doctors who help us.


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