Informed consent refers to a communication process where the patient is educated by a physician on a medical procedure so that they can either agree to it or reject the treatment. All the risks involved should also be highlighted (Russell, 2000). In the case that they agree to the medical procedure, they sign paperwork that proves the agreement. This information once obtained is considered private and confidential.
Disease Surveillance and Reporting
The health department collects information to monitor various diseases and make a report. The report will help the department know which diseases are most rampant, and the areas most affected. The department will also find the age group that is affected by a specific disease. The report will enable the department to have a reason to collect information by the health department. This ensures an effective health care delivery system which improves the general health status. The report will enhance faster emergency response by the department since all the necessary information will be on record. The collection of data helps in monitoring disease outbreaks and incidences. An outbreak is the occurrence of a disease in a larger magnitude than expected.
Research and Educational Purposes
Data collected by the health department can be documented and used for future referencing in researches. The collected data forms the basis of a detailed research when searching for a cure or vaccine for a certain disease. These researches, inclusive of the data initially collected by the health department can be used to educate students, doctors in training and the public in general especially where the disease in question can be prevented or transmitted (Finkelstein, 2007).
Program Implementation and Evaluation
The data collected will enable the health department to know where a program can be best implemented. Data collection also helps in evaluating how the program is proceeding, whether it is successful or not.
Importance of Public Interest in Privacy
Public interest in privacy allows the individual to give out only the necessary information in relation to the topic. In this instance, the individual should give information related to his or her health. Other information may not be necessary. Sensitivity to privacy is important so that in the event of a breach, no unnecessary information about one’s private life will be retrieved (Russel, 2000). Information privacy allows the individual to live freely without fear of their health status or stigmatization. This mainly occurs when the person has a disease that is considered highly dangerous or contagious such as HIV/AIDS or leprosy. Most people prefer to stay in their own privacy in fear of what may happen if some information about them gets revealed. It is important to avail only relevant and useful information since cases of breaching are on the rise.
Reasons for Acquiring Personal Information
Personal information enables a doctor to prescribe a drug to a patient. This significant as it allows a doctor to know if a patient suffers from any allergies. This prevents the creation of another medical problem or the administration of harmful drugs. The doctor relies on such information to follow up on patients (Finkelstein, 2007). He will continue with the prescription if the patient’s health is improving and discontinue or change prescription if the patient’s health is stagnant or deteriorating.
Personal information can inform the doctor whether the disease or condition a patient is suffering from is genetic or not. If the disease is genetic, the doctor can use the information to test the patient’s relations and detect any anomalies and treat them at an early stage.
In summary, availing the necessary personal information is beneficial not only to the individual but those around him, as well.
Ways of Ensuring Greater Information Security
Implementation of New Policies
Implementing and enforcing new policies will go a long way in preventing information breaches that may erode the public’s trust. The health department will establish disclosure protocols that verify the appropriateness of the disclosure in reference to whether or not the disclosure is authorized. The integrity of the information being disclosed and identity of the person receiving the disclosed information should be considered to ensure the recipient credible (Simpson, 2003).
All personnel will undergo training on confidentiality to educate them on proper handling of documents and the importance of data protection and confidentiality. This is because; most breaches are known to occur internally. The educational training will focus on the policies governing information disclosure to avoid breaches as information changes hands. Special training is needed to ensure that practice is consistent with policy in any authorized disclosures of personal health information because the risk of a breach is particularly great when information changes hands (Simpson, 2003).
Since man is to error, preventive engineering will be used to supplement the educational training. In an attempt to prevent breaching, the responsibilities will be shifted from an individual and stored in a computer. Access to the information will only be possible once three processes are completed: Authentication- where the identity of the personnel retrieving the information is confirmed. This might be through confirmation of a password, smart card, fingerprint or any other authorized factor.
In this case, access is either determined or denied. This will further ensure that only authorized personnel are granted access to their respective departments. Auditing of records will deter any unauthorized individuals from accessing confidential information. This activity will be done as frequently as possible, both physically and electronically. The health department will also acquire computerized application meant to detect and prevent hacking and breaches. Encryption of data files will enhance protection of confidential data even after hacking has occurred since only authorized personnel can decode the encrypted information.