The Electronic Medical Record System: Health Care Marvel Or Morass? (Surfing the Information Technology Wave) (Patient Privacy)

The Electronic Medical Record System: Health Care Marvel Or Morass? (Surfing the Information Technology Wave) (Patient Privacy)

FRONT PAGE STORIES IN THE BOSTON GLOBE (“Computerized Medical Records Put Privacy On Line,” “Attorney General’s Office Examining Privacy Of HMO Files,” and “Patient’s Files Allegedly Used for Obscene Calls” *) have reported that patients of a well known Boston HMO were shocked they had not been informed that the most private details of their medical and psychiatric histories had hit the electronic Information highway. Not limited to just one area of the country, these news stories provided a wake-up call that tradition-bound health care institutions, until recently bastions of retrograde operational methods, (1) are on a collision course with high tech electronic medical record keeping systems (EMR). (2) While the theoretical advantages of EMR systems have been heralded for many years, (3-7) it is clear that the reality of sensitive medical information surfing the information waves of cyberspace strikes fear in the hearts of patients and many of their health care providers as well. Gostin et al, (8) citing a 1993 Harris-Equifax poll on health information privacy, reveal how this anxiety has taken the form of deep distrust on the part of consumers, who in overwhelming numbers, “believed that (they) had lost all control over how personal information about them is circulated and used.”

The Electronic Medical Record System: Health Care Marvel Or Morass? (Surfing the Information Technology Wave) (Patient Privacy)

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