Electronic health records save money but pose privacy risks, says law professor

Nov 07, 2011

Electronic health records can potentially save billions of dollars in health care costs and increase patient safety, but have considerable risks to individual privacy in the United States, more so than the European Union, says a new study co-authored by Pamplin College of Business professor Janine Hiller.

“EU countries have adopted and systems, or EHRs, and legally protected privacy at the same time,” Hiller says. EHRs include a wide range of patient medical information collected in digital format and accessible via computer, most often over a network.

Strengthening the legal and technical safeguards, she says, would significantly minimize the privacy and security risks and address public concerns in the U.S. about EHRs. Her study examines their benefits and drawbacks, the adequacy of U.S. laws to meet the challenges posed by the privacy risks and concerns, and compares the EU’s legal approach to EHRs.

The U.S. legal framework for health care privacy, she says, is “a hodgepodge of constitutional, statutory, and regulatory law at the federal and state levels.” Hiller and her co-authors believe that though federal efforts to protect privacy seem to be a step up from inconsistent state laws, Americans currently still “have no real control over the collection of sensitive medical information if they want to be treated,” in contrast to the choice accorded to EU residents.

Their study, Hiller says, makes it clear that the privacy issue should be central to any discussion of EHR implementation in the U.S. and the technical and policy framework that guides it. Her recent research in Sweden, she says, showed her “that the legal and technical frameworks cannot stand alone; that they should be developed hand in hand in order to design systems that will effectively protect patient .”

Until then, she says, “public confidence and trust in EHRs is unlikely.”

Explore further: Non-emergency lines still need a back up plan in case of another meltdown

More information: Read the full story, Privacy or savings? in the fall 2011 issue of Pamplin magazine.

Provided by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Electronic health records may lower malpractice settlements

Nov 25, 2008

Use of electronic health records (EHRs) may help reduce paid malpractice settlements for physicians, according to a new study. The study, which appeared in the November 24 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, showed a tren ...

EU, US discuss data protection deal

Apr 14, 2011

EU and US officials met in Hungary Thursday to try to move forward negotiations for a framework deal to protect the privacy of European citizens' data in future anti-terror operations.

Recommended for you

E-Voting: Risky technology or great improvement?

11 hours ago

On this forthcoming weekend the Australian state election takes place, and in Victoria State they will be using a new e-voting system to improve secrecy, reliability and user-friendliness. But how secure are such systems? ...

Namibia prepares for Africa's first e-vote

Nov 26, 2014

Namibia will vote in Africa's first electronic ballot Friday, a general election that will usher in a new president and quotas to put more women in government.

US agency threatens to act against air bag maker

Nov 26, 2014

A dispute between U.S. safety regulators and air bag maker Takata Corp. escalated Wednesday when the government threatened fines and legal action unless the company admits that driver's air bag inflators ...

Japan orders air bag maker to conduct probe

Nov 21, 2014

Japan's transport ministry said Friday it has ordered air bag maker Takata to conduct an internal investigation after cases of its air bags exploding triggered safety concerns in the United States and other countries.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.