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Home > Privacy and Business > Medical Privacy > The Value of Free-Flowing Medical Information

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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[updated 12/28/00]

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