Patient Trust in Confidentiality Affects Health Decisions

Pablo Valerio, International Business & IT Consultant | 8/29/2012 | 21 comments

Pablo Valerio
Healthcare information is one of the most delicate pieces of data that is collected every day, and people are increasingly concerned about it. CIOs and healthcare providers need to ensure the best security, not only because it is the law, but because data breaches actually affect how honest a patient might be with a doctor and how quickly they will seek medical attention.

New London Consulting conducted a survey of patients in the United Kingdom, and the answers were frightening for people who care about public health issues or the spread of communicable diseases:

38.3 percent stated they have or would postpone seeking care for a sensitive medical condition due to privacy concerns. 72.9 percent of patients reported that if there were any breaches of patients’ personal information at a hospital where they had treatment; it would reduce their confidence in the quality of healthcare offered by the hospital, and nearly 1 out of 2 patients, 45.1 percent indicated they would seek care outside of their community due to privacy concerns with 37 percent indicating they would travel substantial distances, 30 miles or more, to avoid being treated at a hospital they did not trust, in order to keep sensitive information confidential.

Another important finding is that 53 percent of patients withhold information about some sensitive medical condition from their doctor and healthcare provider out of privacy concerns, and 37 percent will travel significant distances to avoid treatment in an institution they did not trust.

It is also interesting to note the differences between the UK and the US:

UK patients are almost twice as likely to withhold information from their care provider about a sensitive personal medical matter if they had a poor record of protecting patient privacy as their American counterparts... In the UK, patients indicate that they feel stronger than US citizens about the degree in which executives and top managers should be held accountable for protecting patient privacy and in the case of a breach.

Obviously, some of those "sensitive medical matters" include conditions that are seriously contagious or more dangerous if left untreated over time. As the report states:

Accurate information is the bedrock upon which physicians assess medical conditions, and hence determines the treatment patients receive. When this information is withheld or even falsified, fundamental treatment assumptions are impacted.

CIOs need to be proactive about keeping information extremely safe. It is not enough to comply with government regulations about data protection. If a data breach occurs patients are not going to check if the institution was following rules, they are going to blame their executives for allowing the breach to happen, regardless of the reasons.

If you can't be bothered to worry about the health issues, at least realize that your hospital is likely to lose customers (and therefore government aid, grants, and donations) as word gets out over breaches. Compliance isn't enough anymore, and neither is just hoping things will blow over. Your business and your patients' lives depend on you protecting their data.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
David Wagner   Patient Trust in Confidentiality Affects Health Decisions   8/31/2012 2:55:58 PM
Re: Doctor, Doctor, give me the news
@Pablo- i know what you mean, but I had a funny image of someone coming to a trauma center in a helicoptor and the doctor is asking him if it is OK to look at his records while there's a big piece of glass sticking out of his chest. :)
Pablo Valerio   Patient Trust in Confidentiality Affects Health Decisions   8/31/2012 6:19:40 AM
Re: Doctor, Doctor, give me the news
@Dave, I have to dig a bit more about the emergency procedures. Probably some patients can waive the requirement.
User Ranking: Blogger
geeky   Patient Trust in Confidentiality Affects Health Decisions   8/31/2012 12:48:22 AM
Re: sensitive topics
Well you do need confidentiality in health services related to patients records. I think eventhough there are no automation for the records right now we still have some sort of a control in confidentiality for patients records. So if we are to go for something which can be automated, the 1st thing which should be considered here is the confidentiality part of the patients record. If they cannot gurantee it, then no point in going for an automation of the health care system
Don K   Patient Trust in Confidentiality Affects Health Decisions   8/31/2012 12:12:45 AM
Re: Doctor, Doctor, give me the news
Yes I also feel that even though this seems a very good proposal, the time consuming matter will be taken up duing the approval process of this proposal. So an alternative will be needed.
David Wagner   Patient Trust in Confidentiality Affects Health Decisions   8/30/2012 6:06:14 PM
Re: Doctor, Doctor, give me the news
@pablo- I liek the emergency rules though I can see some situations where getting two doctors into a room to sign off on it would cost precious time. Seems like just giving specia access to the ER might work better.
kstaron   Patient Trust in Confidentiality Affects Health Decisions   8/30/2012 10:15:04 AM
sensitive topics
Much of this seems to be a societal issue. People are less likely to get help for something that related to sex such as std's, drug or alcohol addiction, or mental illness. Until we can break that barrier, some people will hide their conditions because they don't want to be judged, not even by the doctor that is there to help them.

Stepping way from technology for a moment, how can we encourage medical staff and their patients to have the kind of relationship that allows for better communication on sensitive topics?
Pablo Valerio   Patient Trust in Confidentiality Affects Health Decisions   8/30/2012 5:14:49 AM
Re: Doctor, Doctor, give me the news
" the obvious solution is to anonymize data so that it can only be attached to a name with a token from the patient."

@Dave, there are countries already using that, a National ID card with a SIM chip, and a PIN to access data. But I'm not sure about anonymous data.

And there is the issue of emergencies. As far as I know if two doctors sign in an emergency they can access the patient's data without the chip.
User Ranking: Blogger
kicheko   Patient Trust in Confidentiality Affects Health Decisions   8/30/2012 4:21:51 AM
Re: Doctor, Doctor, give me the news
David, - I actually believe that bit. Its never easy even going for the regular checkup because it is intrusive. Now imagine if you suffered some disease that you considered embarrassing would be understandable if you tried self medication first.
David Wagner   Patient Trust in Confidentiality Affects Health Decisions   8/30/2012 12:16:48 AM
Re: Doctor, Doctor, give me the news
I'm on record a saying I think the concept of medical privacy is silly and that not keeping secrets would actually help us get over the various social stigmas surrounding certain diseases. Perhaps that makes me American (or stupid).

But if privacy is going to be a priority, the obvious solution is to anonymize data so that it can only be attached to a name with a token from the patient. A doctor can still give orders for patient X based on charts and info (and let's face, they'll know who patient X is) and strangers getting the data won't know who to link it to.
David Wagner   Patient Trust in Confidentiality Affects Health Decisions   8/30/2012 12:09:50 AM
Re: Doctor, Doctor, give me the news
@PamR- Agreed. That's why I wonder if people say in a survery that they would delay treatment but then do the opposite when faced with actual reality.
Page 1 / 3   >   >>

The blogs and comments posted on do not reflect the views of TechWeb,, or its sponsors., TechWeb, and its sponsors do not assume responsibility for any comments, claims, or opinions made by authors and bloggers. They are no substitute for your own research and should not be relied upon for trading or any other purpose.

More Blogs from Pablo Valerio
Pablo Valerio   10/3/2013   35 comments
One of the factors keeping doctors from getting a complete picture of a patient's health condition is lack of patient cooperation. Patients are often advised by doctors to regularly record ...
Pablo Valerio   9/25/2013   21 comments
It's nearly impossible to do business anymore without access to huge amounts of data, whenever and wherever you want it. Yet cellular data roaming charges are pricey, WiFi spectrum is ...
Pablo Valerio   9/24/2013   20 comments
Aided by big-data and cloud computing, "personalized medicine" is enabling doctors and researchers to evaluate the potential of existing drugs in different individuals and make better ...
Pablo Valerio   8/28/2013   29 comments
A few weeks ago, Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Union for the Digital Agenda, warned that American cloud companies could lose $35 billion because of the NSA spying scandal ...
Pablo Valerio   8/21/2013   39 comments
A new study by researchers from the MIT Sloan School of Management, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and NYU Stern School of Business shows that many people like or give positive ...
Latest Archived Broadcast
We talk with Bernard Golden about accelerating application delivery in the cloud.
On-demand Video with Chat
Register for this video discussion to learn how tablets can provide true business usability and productivity.
E2 IT Migration Zones
IT Migration Zone - UK
Why PowerShell Is Important
Reduce the Windows 8 Footprint for VDI
Rethinking Storage Management
IT Migration Zone - FR
SQL Server : 240 To de mémoire flash pour votre data warehouse
Quand Office vient booster les revenus Cloud et Android de Microsoft
Windows Phone : Nokia veut davantage d'applications (et les utilisateurs aussi)
IT Migration Zone - DE
Cloud Computing: Warum Unternehmen trotz NSA auf die „private“ Wolke setzen sollten
Cloud Computing bleibt Wachstumsmarkt – Windows Azure ist Vorreiter
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Enterprise Efficiency Twitter Feed
Site Moderators Wanted
Enterprise Efficiency is looking for engaged readers to moderate the message boards on this site. Engage in high-IQ conversations with IT industry leaders; earn kudos and perks. Interested? E-mail:
Dell's Efficiency Modeling Tool
The major problem facing the CIO is how to measure the effectiveness of the IT department. Learn how Dell’s Efficiency Modeling Tool gives the CIO two clear, powerful numbers: Efficiency Quotient and Impact Quotient. These numbers can be transforma¬tive not only to the department, but to the entire enterprise.

Read the full report
The State of Enterprise Efficiency in the Virtual Era: Virtualization – Smart Approaches to Maximize Gains
Virtualization is a presence in nearly all enterprise data centers. But not all companies are using it to its best effect. Learn the common characteristics of success, what barriers companies face, and how to get the most from your efforts.

Read the full report
Informed CIO: Dollars & Sense: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
Cut through the VDI hype and get the full picture -- including ROI and the impact on your Data Center -- to make an informed decision about your virtual desktop infrastructure deployments.

Read the full report
A Video Case Study – Translational Genomics Research Institute
e2 Video

On the Case
TGen IT: Where We're Going Next

7|11|12   |   08:12   |   10 comments

Now that TGen has broken new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions, the company discusses what will come next for it and for personalized medicine.
On the Case
Better Care Through Better Communications

6|6|12   |   02:24   |   11 comments

The achievements of the TGen/Dell project could improve how all people receive healthcare, because they are creating ways to improve end-to-end communication of medical data.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Are Now

5|15|12   |   06:58   |   6 comments

TGen is breaking new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Were

4|27|12   |   06:45   |   10 comments

The Translational Genomics Research Institute wanted to save lives, but its efforts were hobbled by immense computing challenges related to collecting, processing, sharing, and storing enormous amounts of data.
On the Case
1,200% Faster

4|18|12   |   02:27   |   12 comments

Through their partnership, Dell and TGen have increased the speed of TGen’s medical research by 1,200 percent.
On the Case
IT May Improve Children's Chances of Survival

4|17|12   |   02:12   |   8 comments

IT is helping medical researchers reach breakthroughs in a way and pace never seen before.
On the Case
Medical Advances in the Cloud

4|10|12   |   1:25   |   5 comments

TGen and Dell are pushing the boundaries of computing, and harnessing the power of the cloud to improve healthcare.
On the Case
TGen: Living the Mission

4|9|12   |   2:25   |   3 comments

TGen's CIO puts the organizational mission at the heart of everything the IT staff does.
On the Case
TGen Speeding Up Biomedical Research to Save More Lives

4|5|12   |   1:59   |   6 comments

The Translational Genomics Research Institute is revamping its computing to improve speed, storage, and collaboration – and, most importantly, to save lives.
On the Case
Computing Power Helping to Save Children's Lives

3|28|12   |   2:13   |   3 comments

The Translational Genomics Institute’s partnership with Dell is enabling them to treat kids with neuroblastoma more quickly and save more lives.
Tom Nolle
The Big Reason to Use Office

3|18|14   |   02:24   |   46 comments

Office and personal productivity tools come in a first-class and coach flavor set, but what makes the difference is primarily little things that most users won't encounter. What's the big issue in using something other than Office, and can you get around it?
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Mobile Security — A Use Case

3|4|14   |   04:27   |   16 comments

New mobile security solutions can accommodate a wide array of needs, including those of a complex university environment.
Tom Nolle
Killing Net Neutrality Might Save You Money

1|16|14   |   2:13   |   16 comments

The DC Court of Appeals voided most of the Neutrality Order, and whatever it might mean for the Internet overall, it might mean better and cheaper Internet VPNs for businesses.
Tom Nolle
The Internet of Everythinguseful

1|10|14   |   2:18   |   19 comments

We really don't want an "Internet of Everything" but even building an Internet of Everythinguseful means setting some ground rules to insure there's value in the process and that costs and risks are minimized.
Tom Nolle
Maturing Google Chrome

12|30|13   |   2.18   |   25 comments

Google's Chrome OS has a lot of potential value and a lot of recent press, but it still needs something to make it more than a thin client. It needs cloud integration, it needs extended APIs via web services, and it needs to suck it up and support a hard drive.
Sara Peters
No More Cookie-Cutter IT

12|23|13   |   03.58   |   21 comments

Creating the right combination of technology, people, and processes for your IT organization is a lot like baking Christmas cookies.
Sara Peters
Smart Wigs Not a Smart Idea

12|5|13   |   3:01   |   46 comments

Sony is seeking a patent for wigs that contain computing devices.
Tom Nolle
Cloud in the Wild

12|4|13   |   02:23   |   15 comments

On a recent African trip I saw examples of the value of the cloud in developing nations, for educational and community development programs. We could build on this, but not only in developing economies, because these same programs are often under-supported even in first-world countries.
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Is Malware Evading Your IPS?

11|18|13   |   03:16   |   4 comments

Intrusion prevention software is supposed to detect and block malware intrusions, but clever malware authors can evade your IPS in these five main ways.
Sara Peters
Where Have All the Mentors Gone?

9|27|13   |   3:15   |   38 comments

A good professional mentor can change your life for the better... but where do you find one?
Tom Nolle
SDN Wars & You Could Win

9|17|13   |   2:10   |   5 comments

VMware's debate with Cisco on SDN might finally create a fusion between an SDN view that's all about software and another that's all about network equipment. That would be good for every enterprise considering the cloud and SDN.
Ivan Schneider
The Future of the Smart Watch

9|12|13   |   3:19   |   39 comments

Wearing a bulky, oversized watch is good training for the next phase in wristwatches: the Internet-enabled, connected watch. Why the smartphone-tethered connected watch makes sense, plus Ivan demos an entirely new concept for the "smart watch."
Tom Nolle
Cutting Your Cloud Storage Costs

9|4|13   |   2:06   |   3 comments

Cloud storage costs are determined primarily by the rate at which files are changed and the possibility of concurrent access/update. If you can structure your storage use to optimize these factors you can cut costs, perhaps to zero.
Sara Peters
Do CIOs Need an IT Background?

8|29|13   |   2:11   |   23 comments

Most of the CIOs interviewed in the How to Become a CIO series did not start their careers as IT professionals. So is an IT background essential?
Ivan Schneider
The Internet Loves Birthdays

8|27|13   |   3:25   |   69 comments

The Internet has evolved into a machine for drumming up a chorus of "Happy Birthday" messages, from family, friends, friends of friends who you added on Facebook, random people that you circled on G+, and increasingly, automated bots. Enough already.