Privacy Protection in Personal Health Information and Shared Care Records

Roderick L B Neame


Background The protection of personal information privacy has become one of the most pressing security concerns for record keepers. Many institutions have yet to implement the essential infrastructure for data privacy protection and patient control when accessing and sharing data; even more have failed to instil a privacy and security awareness mindset and culture amongst their staff. Increased regulation, together with better compliance monitoring has led to the imposition of increasingly significant monetary penalties for failures to protect privacy. 

Objective  There is growing pressure in clinical environments to deliver shared patient care and to support this with integrated information.  This demands that more information passes between institutions and care providers without breaching patient privacy or autonomy.  This can be achieved with relatively minor enhancements of existing infrastructures and does not require extensive investment in inter-operating electronic records: indeed such investments to date have been shown not to materially improve data sharing.

Requirements for Privacy  There is an ethical duty as well as a legal obligation on the part of care providers (and record keepers) to keep patient information confidential and to share it only with the authorisation of the patient.  To achieve this information storage and retrieval, and communication systems must be appropriately configured. Patients may consult clinicians anywhere and at any time: therefore their data must be available for recipient-driven retrieval under patient control and kept private. 


Information Privacy; Medical Record Sharing; Electronic Medical Records; Shared Care

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