Medical Privacy and the Internet

Medical Privacy and the Internet

D. John Doyle (Cleveland Clinic Foundation, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-002-8.ch002


E-health technology has started to become commonplace in the clinical world, with practitioners setting up their own Web sites to disseminate educational information to patients, with physicians and nurses working as team members to access clinical information about a patient using an electronic patient chart, and with patients even conducting their own research to make informed decisions about clinical options.However, these potential benefits must be tempered from the perspective of medical privacy. Ever since the Hippocratic Oath of antiquity, protecting the privacy of patients has been an important precept of medical ethics. With technological developments, however, health information has come into use by many organizations and individuals that may be unsensitized to medical privacy concerns. This report is concerned with these issues.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Telemedicine: The use of telecommunications technology such as video conferencing for clinical diagnosis and treatment, especially where the clinician and patient are physically far apart.

Telehealth: An all-encompassing term describing the use of telecommunications, information technology, and health education to improve health care.

IP Address: A number that uniquely identifies each sender or receiver of information on the Internet.

URL: An acronym for “Uniform Resource Locator” or address of a resource on the Internet.

Linked Site: A web site or other resource that is easily accessed via hyperlink using a Web browser.

Search Engine: A software program that searches documents (usually Internet documents) for specified words or phrases and provides a list of the documents where the specified words or phrases were found.

Blog: A blog (“Web log”) is a journal, often of a personal nature, published on the web, and usually updated periodically using a “blogging” software package.

Cookie: A small text file that some Web sites place on a user’s computer, containing information such as one’s user ID, user preferences, shopping cart information, etc so that preferences can remembered on future visits to the Web site.

E-Mail: Electronic mail composed on a computer system and transmitted over a network. Messages sent may include attached files.

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