Privacy vs. Electronic Patient Records

Americans believe in the benefits of electronic medical records and think they outweigh the privacy risks. The risks may still be too high though.

Widespread adoption of electronic medical records has been a favorite recommendation for years of experts seeking to improve the quality and lower the cost of medical care in the United States.

Even Presidential candidates have been making noises about adopting electronic recordkeeping as part of their health care plans for the country. Senator John McCain suggested in a recent speech, for example, that electronic medical records could have helped to deliver better medical care to survivors of Hurricane Katrina, an environment in which conventional records were often unavailable.

{Very significant numbers of Americans, 40%, do not trust electronic health systems. The poll cited shows 60% of Americans are willing to trade privacy for the benefits of electronic health records. But 40% of the public NOT willing to trade privacy for electronic benefits is a huge and deal-killing number. All other polls on health privacy going back years show majorities do not want to trade privacy for benefits. These other polls also show that those who want privacy have chronic illnesses, are women, the elderly, or minorities (see other polls on our website). Health information is incredibly valuable—data miners like IMS Health, Thomason Medstat, and McKesson reap billions in revenues annually by selling the nation’s health records primarily to insurers and employers who use the data to discriminate against us. Not only will the inevitable explosion of data breaches destroy the credibility of hospitals, clinics, labs, and pharmacies, but revelations of corporate sale of personal health records will create huge public scandals like the recent revelations about Facebook beacons revealing what users purchased without their consent.~Dr. Deborah Peel, Patient Privacy Rights}

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