Privacy, Confidentiality, and Electronic Medical Records

This article highlights the meaning of EMRs as an important tool for improving patient information management the provision of healthcare. In the article, the author states that the relationship between patients and medical practitioners is critical to the key components involved in the delivery and provision of healthcare. Information confidentiality is very crucial because it promotes confidence in the relationship between patients and healthcare providers.

Barrows explores the importance of EMRs as a tool in maintaining patient confidentiality. He claims that healthcare providers require a quick access to patient records whenever and wherever patients need medical attention (Barrows, 2008, p.p 129). The author explains that maintaining patient confidentiality should be done through regulations that protect patients’ information. Patient information should be confidential to make them feel free. Moreover, they should understand that authorized individuals handling their information are trusted with maintaining their secrecy.

The secrecy of patient information is important because when individuals lack confidentiality, they become discouraged to seek medical attention. The author also claims that the willingness of a patient to provide self-disclosure, which is necessary for the treatment of substance abuse and mental health, may be decreased because of the disclosure of a patient’s information. Furthermore, a patient may prefer to share standard care data with a care provider, but only share information on sexually transmitted diseases and HIV status with a primary care provider. Moreover, a patient may share information on matters concerning mental health, substance abuse with a mental health provider.

The author explains that technological advancement has enhanced the ability of health information to be managed electronically. Confidentiality improves the quality of patient information and reduces healthcare cost. According to the author, one purpose of EMRs, as a tool, is to improve the accessibility and sharing of health information between the patients and authorized individuals in healthcare sector (Barrows, 2008, p.p 139). Confidentiality of information obtained from patients is crucial because of economic, psychological, or social harm that may negatively affect patients when their confidential information is disclosed (Robinson, 2010, p.p 99).

The author argues that with remote access to the distributed health information, the potential for loss of vital information is higher than in EMRs. The computer based EMRs offer more protection to patient information than the traditional methods of keeping patient information, such as the traditional paper record systems. The implementation of policies to govern the protection of patient information is challenging, but the goal of information confidentiality is to ensure: privacy of patient information, confidentiality of health care data, integrity of patient information, and the availability of patient information only to authorized individuals (Barrows, 2008, p.p 140).

In conclusion, the relationship between a medical practitioner and a patient should encompass trust. Thus, in this article, the author has made an effort to clarify the this concept in healthcare that has been characterized by a tradition influenced by third party reimbursement programs, health care organizational systems, and individual perceptions, and cultures of medical professionals. Therefore, the security matters that surround patient information in EMRs systems are justified, but more studies should be conducted to provide better solutions that may be feasible with the current available technologies. I support the views of the author because with the current technology and a guiding policy, EMRs provide better security to patient information (Robinson, 2010, p.p 98).


Barrows, C. R. (2008). Privacy, confidentiality, and electronic medical records. Journal of American Medical Informatics Association, 3 (2), 139-148.

Robinson D, M. (2010). Health information policy: Without confidentiality. Int J Biomed Comput, 35 (Suppl 1):97-104.

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