Patients and Health Care Providers’ Concerns about the Privacy of Electronic Health Records: A Review of the Literature

Nicola T Shaw, Anjali Kulkarni, Rebecca L Mador


Electronic Health Records hold the potential for great improvements in healthcare provision yet take-up in North America remains slow behind Australia and Europe. We believe that one of the reasons for this is the lack of attention to privacy concerns. A structured literature review was undertaken to identify the current state of knowledge concerning patients and Health Care Provider’s (HCP) perspectives on privacy and the EHR. Twenty-one papers were ultimately identified and are discussed here. Two main themes were identified: General concerns with the privacy of EHRs and specific concerns regarding sharing information within EHRs. Based on the literature reviewed, and acknowledging the limitations of the literature in this field, it would appear that in general patients were less concerned with the privacy of their personal health information within EHRs than their HCPs were. If this is indeed the case, this leaves an interesting conundrum for us to consider: Do we have a duty to protect patients, even from themselves, with regards to the sharing of their personal health information?


Electronic Health Records; Privacy

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