Today, issues of privacy and confidentiality in healthcare are dealt largely informally. Little legislation exists, and the awkwardness of accessing paper records makes violations of patients’ privacy sporadic. As healthcare institutions move towards a future where all information is kept in an Electronic Medical Record (EMR), the casual attitudes that are prevalent will be in conflict with the desires and expectations of the patients. Legislation has been passed to make the holders of medical data responsible for securely protecting the patients privacy. Specific implementation guidelines are still lacking. There is much institutional resistance to the adoption of rigorous rules, but we expect that in the near future reliable procedures will have to be implemented to comply both with legal guidelines and patient’s expectations.
After introducing the issue more precisely we provide an overview over the concepts needed to understand the roles of technology of privacy and security and the people that must manage the technology. We then discuss the components of secure EMR systems and will point out where adequate technology exists and where future improvements are essential. We conclude with some advice to healthcare management facing the demands for security and privacy that the future will bring.
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