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Confidentiality, electronic health records, and the clinician.

Authors
  • Graves, Stuart
Type
Published Article
Journal
Perspectives in biology and medicine
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2013
Volume
56
Issue
1
Pages
105–125
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1353/pbm.2013.0003
PMID: 23748530
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

The advent of electronic health records (EHRs) to improve access and enable research in the everyday clinical world has simultaneously made medical information much more vulnerable to illicit, non-beneficent uses. This wealth of identified, aggregated data has and will attract attacks by domestic governments for surveillance and protection, foreign governments for espionage and sabotage, organized crime for illegal profits, and large corporations for "legal" profits. Against these powers with almost unlimited resources no security scheme is likely to prevail, so the design of such systems should include appropriate security measures. Unlike paper records, where the person maintaining and controlling the existence of the records also controls access to them, these two functions can be separated for EHRs. By giving physical control over access to individual records to their individual owners, the aggregate is dismantled, thereby protecting the nation's identified health information from large-scale data mining or tampering. Control over the existence and integrity of all the records--yet without the ability to examine their contents--would be left with larger institutions. This article discusses the implications of all of the above for the role of the clinician in assuring confidentiality (a cornerstone of clinical practice), for research and everyday practice, and for current security designs.

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