Telemedicine Information Systems Evolution Paper Essay

Total Length: 1202 words ( 4 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 4

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The greater availability of patient records can make it easier to create false claims, through electronic tampering. This is yet another risk of telemedicine, which must be guarded against through encryption and proper security infrastructure.

Selling patient information to external entities?

People with long-term diseases like diabetes, or even those only genetically predisposed to genetic conditions, could be denied job opportunities or refused health insurance "if information stolen from data banks were sold to corporate bidders (Dark side, 1999, Science Daily, par. 3-4). Given the expense chronic conditions can cause, and the highly competitive job market, patient data must be unassailable, and it must be illegal to sell what should be protected information. Otherwise, patients may be deterred from seeking genetic testing or care because of fears that the information could be used against them.

What are some policies on the release of information, retention, and destruction of records?

Ethical guidelines observed by legitimate organizations honor the fact that patient data and other information should only be "transmitted to a doctor or other health professional on the request or with the informed consent (permission) of the patient" or an approved caretaker and "the data transmitted must be relevant to the problem in question" (Ethics, 200, FMA, par.18-19). Appropriate security must be used when designing electronic record-keeping systems. "Computer architecture" must incorporate "built-in security mechanisms to protect information sent between medical systems components" (Dark side, 1999, Science Daily, par. 6). Said one hospital: "We've put in audit trails to tell us who's accessed what; we've enhanced passwords and installed encryption, firewalls and dedicated lines. One of the things we've learned is that in addition to all of that, we need to manage the human factor and put in controls around unauthorized access by authorized users" (Dark side, 1999, Science Daily, par. 9).

Conclusion: How is information technology affecting patient care?

In one rural community in Grangier, Tennessee, emergency departments in the town's rural hospital have been equipped with interactive digital audio-video equipment and computers linked to the University of Tennessee.
Rural hospital staff can have consultations with specialists at the University of Tennessee trauma center and "medical patient information, such as x-rays, cardiograms, and diagnostic laboratory blood work, may be digitized and faxed to the trauma center via computers" (Welsh, 2004, par. 24). This enables residents to obtain a far higher quality of care than they might otherwise, and saves the system both the risks and the costs of patient transport. Despite the valid ethical concerns raised by telemedicine, its great benefits to healthcare consumers cannot be ignored. Additionally, many of the security concerns about electronic record-keeping, while valid, could also be applied to the process of storing patient data on computers in general. The benefits of having accurate patient records outweigh the negatives, even though the risks should not be minimized. Technological and legal safeguards must ensure that the medicine of the future is practiced ethically and safely.

Works Cited

Allan, Roger. (2006). A brief history of telemedicine. Electronic Design. Retrieved July 31, 2009


The dark side of telemedicine -- Hacking into medical data. (1999, June 21). Science Daily.

Retrieved July 31, 2009, from / releases/1999/06/990621042830.htm

Ethical guidelines in telemedicine. (2002). FMA. Retrieved July 30, 2009 at

Wager, K.A., Lee, F.W., & Glaser, J.P. (2005). Managing health care information systems: A

practical approach for health care executives. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Welsh, Teresa Smith. (2004, October 4). Telecommunications and medicine: The development of telemedicine in improving access to health care in rural areas of East Tennessee.


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