Valerie Prater, MBA, RHIT
Privacy, security and confidentiality in health information management is discussed by UIC Professor Valerie Prater.
We sometimes hear those words, privacy, security and confidentiality used interchangeably or almost in conflict and so we try to teach our students that these are complimentary terms, but don’t have exactly the same meaning. When we talk about confidentiality of health information, we’re talking about the obligation we have as professionals to hold our information when we’re patients or our client’s information, hold that information confidential.
When we go to see a health care provider we want to know we can talk to that health care provider and have that information held in confidence. So that’s our professional obligation.
Privacy is the patient or the client’s right to have that information held private. So it’s just another way of looking at a similar kind of concept, but it’s the patient’s right to have that information held private.
And then security is what we need in terms of protection.
Privacy is a great concept, it’s a great right, but security helps us make it happen in terms of protection. It might be a locked file drawer for paper records. It might be encryption for a laptop that has health information on it.