Records privacy and security

Priority: Include strong privacy and security records protection in the development of health information technology, with special attention to mental health records

Transferring patient records from paper to electronic form could greatly improve patient care by helping providers coordinate care and reduce medical errors. However, electronic records could also make it easier for confidential information to be released.

Protecting privacy and security is especially important when it comes to mental health and substance abuse treatment. For these patients, even the potential threat of a security breach can be devastating.

The APA Practice Organization have already had a big victory in this area. A part of the 2009 stimulus package called the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act includes protections for electronic records.

To ensure appropriate care, we must protect patients' confidentiality.

  • Privacy concerns. Fourteen percent of respondents to a 2005 Harris Interactive poll believed their health information had been improperly released.
  • Impact on care. Thirteen percent of respondents to a 2005 survey by the California Health Care Foundation said that they had not told their doctor about a health condition, avoided a medical test or asked that a diagnosis not be recorded in an effort to protect their privacy.