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Featured Clinical Reviews

January 6, 2015

New Challenges for Electronic Health Records: Confidentiality and Access to Sensitive Health Information About Parents and Adolescents

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, New York
  • 2Heilbrunn Department of Population & Family Health, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, New York
JAMA. 2015;313(1):29-30. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.15391

Electronic health records (EHRs) have been promoted as providing an opportunity to rationalize health care services and overcome the problems associated with a fragmented care system—yet EHRs also pose several critical, evolving challenges that remain to be addressed. Given that patients frequently change clinicians and see a variety of primary care clinicians and specialists, EHRs have the potential for improving the quality of health care, permitting more effective coordination of multiple clinicians, improving the safety of medications, and allowing more rapid evaluation of care.1,2 Given this potential, the federal government has made significant investments in the development of EHRs.2 Although much attention has been given to the benefits of EHRs, there has been less discussion of the serious challenges regarding privacy for minor adolescents and parents. In this Viewpoint we focus on 2 related threats to confidentiality created by EHRs: the possibility of disclosure to parents of health information that the adolescent may wish to keep private and disclosure to the adolescent of information that parents may wish to keep private.

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