Electronic Health Records and Adolescents’ Privacy

This blog has written about complaints from both physicians and nurses regarding the costs and time devoured by using Electronic Health Records, which have been imposed on practices despite not adding value.

In a JAMA article published earlier this month, three physicians discuss EHRs’ challenge to adolescents’ and parents’ privacy. So-called minor consent laws permit adolescents to secure health care services without parental consent for drug use, pregnancy and pregnancy preventions, STDs and mental health. These laws underscore the professional consensus that absent confidentiality, adolescents will be reluctant to seek care for sensitive health issues.

With paper records, care provided under minor consent laws was segregated from other medical records and difficult to access. Because EHRs aggregate information for all health care provided within a so-called integrated system, parents have the means to electronically access confidential information, often facilitated by web portals to the records.

On the other hand, parents might also want their medical information kept private from their children, which EHRs also make difficult.

The Journal of Adolescent Health suggests a virtual definition and separation of sensitive and non-sensitive information. The JAMA authors comment that despite widespread agreement on the need for minor confidentiality, “technical and regulatory challenges persist.” These calls to further develop and standardize the design and release of EHRs would only add to the cost-benefit calamity that is the nearly $30 billion of taxpayers’ money Congress has spent to coax healthcare facilities to install EHRs.

Comments (2)

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  1. Larry says:

    Does the calamity have an end in sight? i.e., is there anything empirical to suggest that EHRs add true value in the long run?

  2. Wes Baker says:

    Federal incentives to use EHRs, like most of the ACA, is a long-term play contingent largely on the new Congress. TBD