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Study: Privacy Key Obstacle to Adopting EHRs

September 22, 2010
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The U.S. could achieve significant health care savings if it achieved widespread adoption of electronic health records (EHRs), but insufficient privacy protections are hindering public acceptance of the EHR concept, according to a new paper from researchers from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. The paper outlines steps that could be taken to boost privacy and promote the use of EHRs.

However, a lack of public support related to privacy concerns has hindered its progress. And Dr. David Baumer, head of the business management department at NC State and co-author of the paper says that those concerns are not entirely unwarranted. For example, there is some evidence showing that EHRs can facilitate identity theft. But EHRs have become prevalent in the European Union, which has significantly more stringent privacy protections and whose citizens feel more comfortable with the EHR concept.

The researchers include a list of technical and legal recommendations that could make EHRs more viable in the U.S. For example, the paper calls for the introduction of civil penalties if people share information inappropriately or with inappropriate parties.

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