For instance, an employee with the proper security clearance can look up medical information on the patients he is treating, but he can also look up ex-girlfriends, neighbors and anyone else his security clearance allows him to access. Because of such abuse, many information systems professionals run random system checks to see which employees are accessing records and for what reasons. However, it is not feasible to think that every employee can be monitored all of the time. Health care informatics make a patient's medical information accessible to anyone that might need it, but they also make it vulnerable to prying eyes that don't.
Even worse, information that is on a computer system may be vulnerable to access by outside parties that were never intended to access the system, like "hackers" for instance. Such people could perform mass identity thefts, since social security numbers and even credit card numbers are often stored in health care information systems. This would result in unimaginable losses for patients, as well pose a huge liability for the health care provider. Some people worry that security precautions have not been able to keep up with the speedy evolution of health care informatics, and this may be a valid concern. If an entire information system was crippled or destroyed by such a hostile attack - or even by an act of nature, like a flood or tornado - and the back-up systems for the data were not preserved, an entire healthcare network could lose countless patients' medical records, possibly putting the lives of some patients at risk or even causing possible deaths due to treatment errors. The shift from filing paper charts on patients to digitally storing medical records has definite advantages, but such technology certainly comes with a serious set of security risks.
As with many modern medical topics, the subject of the ethical use of medical records is under great scrutiny. Should private insurance companies be allowed to use medical records to deny coverage to people who are too old Should life insurance be denied to people with genetic disadvantages, like maternal cancers or paternal hypertension Medical research questions also come into the debate. Is it fair to collect data and research from medical records without the consent of the patients For instance, can you look at the rate of blindness of patients with diabetes at a certain hospital without informing the patients or their families New technological advances are even making it possible to enter a patient's symptoms and allow a computer program to suggest a diagnosis. Many health care providers think this is a wonderful new technology that will assist doctors in caring for their patients, but many others think it will become a crutch that will prevent physicians from properly practicing the art of medicine.
When should computers be used to compile information Who should access this information How vulnerable does technology make medicine All of these questions about health care informatics will need to be answered as the field evolves.
2. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, also known as HIPAA, is an act issued by the United States government that attempts to define the relationship between a patient's right to confidentiality and the need for medical