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Data Breaches of Protected Health Information in the US

There is no doubt that the rapid growth of digital technology has a significant influence on many spheres of the human activity. Frankly speaking, it is impossible to find at least one field that is not connected to the use of modern devices and databases. Discussing the role of technology in the human activity, it is necessary to give special consideration to the sphere of healthcare which is responsible for the most precious resource that people possess.

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The use of modern technology in healthcare can be characterized as the practice that provides numerous benefits for healthcare specialists and patients. Despite that, every health informatics professional should be aware of ethical and legal challenges that emerging healthcare technologies may involve. For instance, Electronic Health Record or EHR is the popular practice that involves collecting health information of a patient that will be stored in special databases (Harman & Cornelius, 2015).

Although such approach to the collection and the use of medical data involves extended opportunities for healthcare providers, it is necessary to mention that it also involves certain issues. To begin with, the issue of privacy remains urgent as it often happens that the third parties working with medical institutions have access to patient data which is the obvious violation of the rights of clients. To mitigate the problem, the authorities in the United States introduced the document called HIPAA which outlines the rules that healthcare specialists must follow while working with the health data of their patients (McDavid & West, 2014).

Another challenge associated with EHR is related to the fact that these systems use special time marks to keep track of changes made to health information of patients (Reznick, Hribar, Read-Brown, Yackel, & Chiang, 2016). In the case of legal proceedings, those specialists who have not implemented the changes to the profiles of their patients on time can face additional problems related to the legitimacy of their actions.

Another emerging technology that is regarded as important when it comes to healthcare is the use of patient portals. The latter are special applications that facilitate the communication between patients and their attending medical doctors. Apart from that, patients using these applications have an opportunity to get acquainted with the detailed health data reported by their healthcare professionals. As for the challenges related to patient portals, it is necessary to state that healthcare specialists have to follow the HIPAA regulations highlighting the importance of data security (Liu, Musen, & Chou, 2015).

Discussing the use of patient portals that are supposed to be a helpful tool for every person undergoing medical treatment, it is important to mention one more ethical issue that specialists in the field may face. It is common truth that patients should be provided with the information on their health conditions. Despite that, many specialists suppose that providing patients suffering from severe illnesses with the results of their medical tests is not the best decision as it may sometimes dent their hopes and, therefore, have a negative influence on their mental health (Davis & Smith, 2016). In fact, health informatics specialists may need to deal with the consequences of healthcare providers’ mistakes.

In the end, there are a lot of ethical and legal problems related to innovations in healthcare that must be considered by health informatics specialists and healthcare providers. They include security of patient health information and the necessity to control observance of rules connected with patient data refreshing. Also, it is important to consider the appropriateness of test results disclosure using patient portals.

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Davis, K. A., & Smith, L. B. (2016). Ethical considerations about EHR-mediated results disclosure and pathology information presented via patient portals. AMA Journal of Ethics, 18(8), 826.

Harman, L. B., & Cornelius, F. (2015). Ethical health informatics (3d Ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Liu, V., Musen, M. A., & Chou, T. (2015). Data breaches of protected health information in the United States. Jama, 313(14), 1471-1473.

McDavid, J., & West, S. (2014). Corrective actions for HIPAA compliance in 2014: Practices focus on EHR system and record retention issues. The Journal of Medical Practice Management: MPM, 30(1), 7-8.

Reznick, L. G., Hribar, M. R., Read-Brown, S., Yackel, T. R., & Chiang, M. F. (2016). Computer simulation models for optimizing clinical workflow in pediatric ophthalmology. Journal of American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, 20(4), 22-23.

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