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Technology and Privacy

Technology and Privacy

According to Berg (2004), health information technology and the exchange of health information can help ameliorate both the efficiency and quality of health care, and can as well empower consumers to participate greatly regarding their own care. Both at the state and federal levels, the policy makers are making efforts to ensure that health care system has been computerized. However, the computerized technology in the field of health care poses a number of risks to the privacy of information regarding the status of health service consumers. There is a widespread misinterpretation and confusion regarding the aim of health privacy laws in the present time. Some of the privacy laws are attempting to address the privacy issues of the public and this requires a thoughtful, flexible, and comprehensive approach in order for issues to be resolved fully (Berg, 2004). According to Barnet & Bedau (2011), there are two opposite perspectives regarding the health information technology and privacy of the health consumer information. From some perspectives, privacy can be considered as an obstacle to attaining the improvements in health care due increased use of health information technology, while from other perspectives the enhanced security and privacy in the health information technology will strengthen consumer confidence and trust and spur increased rates of adopting the health information technology as the potential benefits will be realized.

It has been found that Americans are cognizant of both the risks and the benefits of health information technology regarding the privacy of consumers’ information. A large number of citizens want computerized access to personal health information for themselves as well as for health care providers. This is because they strongly believe that the computerized access to personal health information can enhance better quality of health care (Smedley & Syme, 2000). Other individuals have significant issues regarding the privacy of personal medical records which is contrary to the allowed computerized access to personal health information. For these individuals, the privacy of personal health information can avoid the following: fraud or identity theft; using the personal medical information for marketing purposes; employers accessing personal health information; and the insurers getting access to contributors’ personal health information. Therefore, suitable protections to privacy must be integrated in the health information technology policies and systems. It is usually very difficult to lay down effective protections to privacy retroactively, as well as to restore the greatly undermined public trust. Protection of privacy has been found important because it avoids harm as well as ensures reliable and accurate information on which a lively health care depends (Yee, 2006).

Lack of appropriate security and privacy protections within the health care system, consumers will develop behaviors that they believe can enhance privacy so that their health information is not used in an inappropriate way (Yee, 2006). When individuals, become aware that the privacy of their health information will not be protected, they hold back information from the concerned health providers so that to avoid their medical data from being disclosed. Those individuals who are classified as ethnic and racial minorities report increased levels of the privacy issues regarding their medical records and have a higher likelihood of practicing the behaviors that can protect the privacy of the personal health information (Berg, 2004). The behaviors such as paying out-of-pocket for one’s own care, frequent switching of doctors, asking doctors to manipulate a diagnosis, or avoiding seeking medical care, are meant to protect the privacy of health information, which can in turn shield individuals from discrimination or stigmatization (Yee, 2006). The consequences of such behaviors include: reduced quality of health care; impaired accuracy of the diagnosis and treatment of infections; escalation of treatment costs; undermining of the public health, quality, and research initiatives because of inaccurate medical records.

It has been discussed that computerized technology in the field of health care poses a number of risks to the privacy of information regarding the status of health service consumers (Berg, 2004). There are two opposite perspectives regarding the health information technology and privacy of the health consumer information. From some perspectives, privacy can be considered as an obstacle to attaining the improvements in health care due increased use of health information technology, while from other perspectives the enhanced security and privacy in the health information technology will strengthen consumer confidence and trust and spur increased rates of adopting the health information technology as the potential benefits will be realized (Smedley & Syme, 2000). Some individuals strongly believe that the computerized access to personal health information can enhance better quality of health care. Other individuals have significant issues regarding the privacy of personal medical records which is contrary to the allowed computerized access to personal health information. The negative impacts of computerized health information on privacy outweigh its positive impacts, and therefore privacy of personal health information need to be protected.



Jun 19 2012 , 4:20
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