Privacy and Quality in Health Care

December 2000, Vol. 21, No. 12
Paperback, 16 pp.
PDF, 84 kb
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2000

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Executive Summary

Privacy and Quality in Health Care—The health care system in the United States has been slow to accept and adopt computer technologies on a large scale, while different professions within the health care sector have developed their own specific data systems to process and store patient information, such as for medical records, pharmacy, clinical laboratory work, and billing. This has resulted in a variety of incompatible systems and fragmentation of information technology in health care.  But in recent years, as more insurers, providers, and purchasers have adopted electronic systems to store, process, and transmit information, awareness has grown about the importance of developing efficient and compatible systems that readily permit electronic transfer of medical information. At the same time, this increasing ability to easily transmit and share medical information is raising public policy concerns about inappropriate uses of personal health information
(PHI), and how to protect the privacy and confidentiality of patients' PHI.