Health Information Technology and the Idea of Informed Consent

Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 38 (1):27-35 (2010)
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Abstract

As policy makers place great hope in health information technology as a means to lower costs and achieve improvements in health care quality, safety, and efficiency, organizations at the forefront of building health information exchange networks attempt to weave the concept and function of informed consent into an evolving information-driven health care system. The vast amount of information that will become available to both health professionals and patients in the new HIT-driven environment can reasonably be expected to affect the relationship between them in many ways, particularly in the area of informed consent. During this early stage of HIT adoption, it is critical that we engage in discussions regarding informed consent’s proper role in a heretofore unknown health care environment — one in which electronic information sharing holds primary importance. The central and largely unexamined question of whether and how the legal and ethical underpinnings of informed consent will fit into the context of HITenabled treatment is critical to both public policy and clinical practice.

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