Views on health information sharing and privacy from primary care practices using electronic medical records

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The purpose of this article is to explore how physicians and patients balance the potential benefits and dangers of sharing patients’ electronic health information in regards to patient safety as well as miscellaneous secondary purposes [1].


A Health Information Privacy Questionnaire(s) (HIPQ) which was composed of before and after surveys were filled out by both physicians and patients in practices which had electronic medical records (EMRs) implemented and were part of a clinical trial in Ontario, Canada. Thirteen questions were asked in the following four categories[1]:

  • Privacy of EMRs
  • Use of patients' health information by someone outside the health care organization
  • Sharing patients' information within the health care system
  • The overall perception of benefits versus harms of computerization in health care


There were a total of 511 patients and 46 physicians who participated in the survey. Over 90% of those surveys had favorable opinions regarding the sharing of electronic health information amongst health care professionals for the purpose of providing clinical advice. Less than 70% agreed health data lacking identification information should be shared with non health care professionals. Approximately 38%-50% believed computerized records could have greater security than paper records, but 58% of patients and 70% of physicians believed the benefits gained from having electronic health information outweighed the risk towards confidentiality[1].


The majority of patients and physicians highly valued the benefits which EMRs can provide, but it is important to note the large percentage of those who had doubts regarding any and all secondary uses of de-identified personal health information. Additional values and beliefs showed that there were no major concerns about academic researchers access to health information.


I agree with the conclusion of the article as 58% of patients believed the good EMRs can provide are worth the risk, and only 38%-50% believed electronic records could be better protected than paper records. These results are concerning because if only approximately half of the patients surveyed were supportive of EMRs then they might be reluctant to allow their information to be entered into an EMR, and lack of patient participation could cause problematic issues towards EMR implementations.

Related Read: The Mobile Technology Era: Potential Benefits and the Challenging Quest to Ensure Patient Privacy and Confidentiality

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Patient Experiences and Attitudes about Access to a Patient Electronic Health Care Record and Linked Web Messaging


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Perera, G., Holbrook, A., Thabane, L., Foster, G., & Willison, D. J. (2011). Views on health information sharing and privacy from primary care practices using electronic medical records. International journal of medical informatics, 80(2), 94-101.