Data Security for Healthcare

Technical Guidelines

The SEISMED Consortium,
Pub. date
January 1996
32 of Studies in Health Technology and Informatics
ISBN print
ISBN online
Medical Informatics, Medicine & Health

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The efficiency of modern health care relies more and more upon a computerised infrastructure. Open distributed information systems have started to bring professionals together from all over the world. On the one hand easy processing and communication of images, sound and texts will help to visualize and therefore treat illnesses and diseases efficiently, on the other hand the very ease of access and use can threaten patient privacy, accountability and health care professional secrecy. Developments in community care are responsible for the fact that many aspects of patient care are delivered outside the closed walls of a hospital and hence patient records must also be accessible and updated throughout the community. Therefore, the introduction of information technology should focus primarily on the improvement of the health of patients or, at least, not putting patients' health at risk. This means that the right data has to be available to the right person at the right time (availability). Information technology deeply affects the confidential relationship between patient and doctor, since it increasingly surrounds and mediates it. Information systems in health care establishments are increasingly developing towards an integrated system where various users can interact and communicate. The process of integration will cross the borders of local health care establishments and it will progressively expand, e.g., into patients' homes, into a European health care community, in order to support the mobility of patients, the exchange of medical and administrational data, transfer of bills and money.