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The Value of Free-Flowing Medical Information
Thanks to tremendous advances in both medical technology and information technology,
medical information has become an important part of improving health care outcomes.
Where people may have seen one family doctor for their entire lives in the past, today
society is mobile, medicine has developed into numerous specialties, and health systems
have developed networks of health care providers.
The availability of medical information has many benefits. For example, it
allows unconscious patients to be treated more quickly. Free-flowing medical
information allows faster discovery of what treatments work and what do not.
Medical information allows epidemiologists to quickly locate and arrest disease outbreaks
and environmental illnesses. On a more mundane, but no less important level,
medical information allows patients to buy insurance and receive medical benefits.
These benefits can be enjoyed consistent with protecting the privacy of medical
information. Patients should be in a position to control what uses are made of
information about them. When well informed of the uses of medical information, they
are likely to choose privacy protections that are consistent with all the technological
benefits available to themselves and others.
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