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Privacy: From Barrier to Enabler of Health Information Technology (HIT) 

Date of Publication:
FEB 2010
Associated Project:

 Good healthcare depends on good information. That information can include a patient’s diagnosis, illness history, family history, recent test results, or information about a new treatment or intervention that could save a life. Unfortunately, our 21st century health system relies on 19th century methods of recording and transmitting data. The usual result is that a significant portion of information in the patient’s record is missing or incomplete, or can be interpreted out of context, leading to the risk of incorrect conclusions. To improve the quality of medicine and minimize the possibility of adverse outcomes, healthcare advocates place great hope in the potential of HIT. Consumers have demonstrated that they will use technology based systems to collect and transmit very personal information about themselves— but first, they have to trust it. HIT-enabled content and transactions hold the promise of making important healthcare information more readily available to those who need it. If they are implemented with careful attention to workflow and content needs, EHR systems will appreciably improve the safety, effectiveness, and efficiency of American healthcare, leading to widespread and sustainable quality improvement.