To say that the rise of the idea of Electronic Health Records (EHR's) has revolutionized the way patient information is created and accessed is to make a big understatement. A typical byproduct of the Internet revolution, EHR's have absolutely hastened the way caregivers and physicians have access to medical records. This has accelerated the speed of caregiving. So quick and widespread has the use of EHR's been that the American Congress found it necessary to legislate a federal statute to regulate this activity.
Anything that involves technology comes with an inevitable side effect, so to speak. In the case of ethical issues in electronic health records; these have come into being because EHR's have tremendous potential for breach and pilferage of the data they contain. This brings into question ethical issues in electronic health records.
Ethical issues in electronic health records lie at the heart of the system, because to create Electronic Health Records, access to sensitive health data about the patient is necessary and unavoidable. When these data are stored into EHR's; they become the property of the healthcare provider. This is where ethical issues in electronic health records arise because these data are vulnerable to a number of breaches and other kinds of manipulation.
Ethical issues in electronic health records arise at the core of the system - patient records. As we have seen, patient records are susceptible to a number of breaches. Ethical issues in electronic health records happen when a healthcare provider gives out information about the patient to a third party for whatever reason.
Ethical issues in electronic health records are difficult to sidestep because ethical issues have different meanings in different situations and contexts. A simple act such as giving out information about some small aspect of a patient's health to a close relative can sometimes constitute a breach and become part of ethical issues in electronic health records.
On the other hand, ethical issues in electronic health records are more serious when there are deliberate attempts to unlawfully access a patient's EHR. This is something that pharmaceutical and advertising companies may be interested in, because this information is very critical for their strategies.
When dealing with ethical issues in electronic health records, the core principle to bear in mind is to be vigilant in all possible manners, and in all imaginable areas. This is easier said than done, but strong technological means and implementation of best practices to prevent data breaches are what are needed. In this sense, ethical issues in Electronic Health Records are a work in progress.