Patient Consent to Health Information Technology: Safeguarding Patients’ Records and Confidences

June 16, 2012

As the health care reform encourages more hospitals and physician networks to adopt electronic health record systems and more regional networks to develop, the federal and state governments will have the difficult task of safeguarding patients’ records and confidences. While the public health benefits of electronic health record systems are plentiful, concerns of privacy and consent permeate patients’ minds. North Carolina has made great strides in laying the groundwork for creating these networks; however, more regulations are necessary to advocate measures for obtaining consent from patients and to facilitate patient confidence in these networks. In order to encourage participation in the network, North Carolina should incorporate an opt-in, provider by provider consent process and should consider expanded recourse rights for patients.