What is it about?

This study delves into the critical realm of safeguarding electronic health records (EHRs) to ensure both privacy and security. In today's digital era, where medical data is increasingly stored and shared electronically, it's paramount to protect the confidentiality of patients' sensitive information. Electronic health records, or EHRs, contain vital details about a person's medical history, treatments, and diagnoses, all of which must be kept confidential. However, breaches in EHR privacy can lead to significant consequences, including compromising patients' trust and even potential harm. To tackle these challenges, researchers and developers must grasp the nuanced differences between privacy, confidentiality, and security. Privacy pertains to individuals' rights to control their health information, while confidentiality involves the ethical and legal duty to safeguard this data from unauthorized access. Security, on the other hand, encompasses the measures implemented to protect EHR data from various threats and risks. This study examines over 130 research papers published between 2012 and 2022, focusing on techniques and tools aimed at preserving the privacy of EHRs. It sheds light on common strategies such as access control, blockchain, and cryptography utilized in EHR data sharing. Moreover, the study identifies gaps in existing literature and proposes a fusion of techniques to enhance the privacy, confidentiality, and security (PCS) of EHRs. By synthesizing findings and providing practical insights, this research contributes to the ongoing efforts to safeguard electronic health records in the modern healthcare landscape.

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Why is it important?

This study is important for several reasons: Protection of Sensitive Information: Electronic health records (EHRs) contain highly sensitive information about individuals' medical histories, treatments, and diagnoses. Ensuring the privacy and security of this data is essential to maintain patient trust and confidentiality. Legal and Ethical Obligations: Healthcare providers have legal and ethical obligations to protect patient privacy and confidentiality. Breaches in EHR privacy can lead to legal consequences, including fines and penalties, as well as ethical dilemmas regarding patient trust and confidentiality. Prevention of Data Breaches: With the increasing digitization of healthcare systems, the risk of data breaches and cyberattacks targeting EHRs is also on the rise. Implementing robust security measures is crucial to prevent unauthorized access, data breaches, and potential harm to individuals' privacy. Advancement of Healthcare Practices: Effective privacy preservation in EHRs facilitates seamless data sharing and collaboration among healthcare providers, leading to improved healthcare outcomes, enhanced patient care, and advancements in medical research. Compliance with Regulations: Various regulations and standards, such as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) in the United States, mandate the protection of patient health information. Compliance with these regulations requires healthcare organizations to implement adequate privacy and security measures for EHRs. Trust in Healthcare Systems: Maintaining the privacy and security of EHRs is crucial for building and maintaining trust between patients and healthcare providers. Patients need assurance that their sensitive information is safe and will not be misused or compromised. Overall, this study addresses a critical need in the healthcare sector by providing insights and recommendations for preserving the privacy and security of electronic health records, thereby safeguarding patients' sensitive information and ensuring trust in healthcare systems.


As authors of this study, we offer a unique perspective that underscores the significance of our research in the broader landscape of healthcare technology and patient care. Our journey into investigating the privacy preservation of electronic health records (EHRs) was fueled by a deep-seated commitment to addressing a fundamental challenge facing modern healthcare systems: how to balance the benefits of digitalization with the imperative to protect patients' privacy and security. From our vantage point, we recognize that EHRs represent a cornerstone of contemporary healthcare delivery, offering unprecedented opportunities for data-driven decision-making, improved clinical outcomes, and enhanced patient experiences. However, this digital transformation also brings forth complex ethical, legal, and technical considerations, particularly concerning the safeguarding of sensitive patient information. Through our systematic survey of existing literature and analysis of over 130 studies spanning a decade, we embarked on a journey to distill insights, identify trends, and illuminate best practices in privacy preservation within EHR ecosystems. Our findings not only underscore the critical importance of privacy, confidentiality, and security (PCS) in EHRs but also reveal the multifaceted nature of the challenges at hand. In offering our perspectives, we invite readers to join us in this ongoing dialogue, as we collectively strive to navigate the complexities of EHR privacy preservation, advance the frontiers of knowledge, and forge a future where innovation and integrity converge to deliver safer, more secure, and more equitable healthcare for all.

Raza Nowrozy
Victoria University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Privacy Preservation of Electronic Health Records in the Modern Era: A Systematic Survey, ACM Computing Surveys, April 2024, ACM (Association for Computing Machinery),
DOI: 10.1145/3653297.
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