Traditionally medical data were typically collected and stored as records in physician’s offices and in hospitals. Often the data were recorded manually and retrieved manually. Today collection and retrieval of medical data is increasingly done using information technology (IT). The introduction of IT, especially e-technologies, has changed the handling of medical data in ways that are both promising for improving health care as well as threatening to the individual patient’s medical privacy. This article will examine medical privacy and the National Health Information Network (Kaushal, et al., 2005) initiative. Other technologies such as Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID), voice over IP (VOIP) and telemedicine, while relevant to the topic of medical privacy and IT, are tangential to the more central issues of electronic health records, medical databases, and the development of a national health information network. Although the focus will be on medical privacy in the United States of America, it is evident that people in other countries are also concerned about their medical privacy. Singaporeans, especially Malays, worry that their medical histories may result in racial discrimination. In the area of medical research, the Chinese and Indians want their medical information confined only to the area of study that was originally agreed to and not disseminated widely (Tan, 2006).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Telemedicine: Medical intervention provided over a distance with the aid of technology mediation.
EDI: Electronic data interchange.
RFID: Radio Frequency Identification Device.
VOIP: Voice over IP.
MIB: Medical Information Bureau.
EHR: Electronic health records.