2. Discuss the ‘ethical’ issues surrounding the development of the system
Paper-based records have been used for centuries and their measured replacement by computer-based records has been slowly underway for more than 20 years in the healthcare system of the West. Electronic medical record systems lie at the center of any of the computerized health information system. Thus, without them, other modern technologies including the decision support systems cannot be integrated into the routine clinical workflow in efficient manner (Open Clinical).
There are different ethical issues that are being thrown in application of the computerized system for patient records; this is applicable in the case of the development of the system for the local Medical Practice. This ethical aspect focuses on the issue of security and safety which will open a new risk about the patients’ privacy and confidentiality.
The information to be stored in the new system will include personal information of the patient including the address, phone number, social security number, date and place of birth, marital status and religion; this is together with the family background and their respective personal information; treatment, medication and diagnosis history of patient. Therefore, any misuse of this information can have negative impact on the lives of the patients and their families. As a result, privacy of the patient as well as confidentiality have been tackled and debated for a long time. Even though computerization helps to improve the accessibility of data, it also offers a big threat or risk towards the privacy and confidentiality of the patient (SEERI n.d.).
In detail, it is important to focus on the different aspect of the system. This will include questions about the access, reliability and security. In terms of access, it is important to focus on the need of access. It is not always necessary that the information flow will be ready from the office of the physician to the hospital and vice versa. In addition, it is also important to focus on the provision of access. Furthermore, the restriction of access is very important; this will help to deal with the sensitivity of information about the patient. The time and place of access is also important. It is important to restrict the access of medical records to a certain place and time. Reliability is also vital. This is because any change or alteration in medical records and history can greatly affect the lives of the patients and their family. Therefore, it is important to ensure that all of the data and information stored in the database are all updated and correct. The security of data focuses on the loss of control; the loss of data; and the misuse of data. It is always important to maintain professional competence, at the same time, focuses on the legal responsibility of the establishments (Mick n.d.). Based on this, it is important to focus on the ethical impact of the computerized medical records including access and ownership of data, confidentiality and brokering in order to improve the flow and quality of the system to be developed.
Mick, M. Ethical Issues of Medical Records on the Internet, http://webpages.math.luc.edu [Accessed April 9, 2010].
Open Clinical, Electronic Medical Records, Electronic Health Records, http://www.openclinical.org [Accessed on April 9, 2010].
SEERI, Security of Computerized Patient Record, http://seeri.etsu.edu [Accessed on April 9, 2010].