ABC County Health Department: Case Study

The Problems and Key Contributors

The key players, including ABCCHD and Info-Health, which is a healthcare software vendor, have to balance the privacy of the patients with sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, and the costs of implementing and maintaining relevant security mechanisms in their e-Healthcare system while taking into account the varied interests of the stakeholders, including themselves and patients. Currently, there is no agreement on the dilemma, which complicates the issue.

The case of sexually transmitted diseases can be viewed as a personal and public health concern, and while the latter is typically viewed as more important, healthcare organizations need to take into account the former and ensure the protection of the personal information of their patients (Stutterheim et al., 2016). The problem is further complicated by the fact that privacy concerns tend to cause stress in patients with sexually transmitted diseases, which may be harmful to their health and can result in the lack of trust towards healthcare professionals (Adam et al., 2014; Dapaah & Senah, 2016; Goodman, 2016). The lack of appropriate security at ABCCHD does not only demonstrate the neglect of the legal responsibilities of the organization but is also unethical and harms the business by reducing the patients’ trust and satisfaction with the service.

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On the other hand, privacy has its costs. In healthcare informatics, it includes the costs required to establish and maintain appropriate security systems, and it can be roughly assessed by determining the number of patients to be served, legal requirements, and ethical concerns.

Thus, it is apparent that the key constraints which stand in the way of applying an appropriate solution to the situation include ethical and legal requirements, technical details, and the actual costs necessary for the solution implementation (Harman & Cornelius, 2015; Hoyt & Yoshihashi, 2016). As for the solution, it is apparent that the ethically and legally appropriate thing to do is to improve the company’s security system while focusing on the patients’ needs. The presented diagram illustrates the interdependent system of elements that ABCCHD should be able to improve through this solution.

Short-term Warranted Actions

The problem has been left without resolution for some time, which is why the short-term actions should be aimed at patching the existing issues as soon as possible. The first action to be taken consists of coming to an agreement and developing appropriate solutions to the key problems. Some of the primary activities should involve the development of an additional security level and the evaluation and improvement of the security system performance. Also, it would be helpful to address the concerns of the patients with sexually transmitted diseases and implement some short-term solutions that can be later developed or substituted. Some of the suggestions include the introduction of particular workers who are going to treat the risk group separately; the access to the information of these patients will also be restricted.

Long-term Resolution

Several long-term solutions can be offered. First, it can be suggested to produce a separate system for the patients with sexually transmitted diseases; in this case, the patients will be served separately. This solution is quite secure and can be more emotionally comfortable for patients with security concerns, but it is likely to be costly because it requires separate equipment and additional staff. The second option can involve the development of a new subsystem, which is not going to require additional hardware, but will also be less secure than the previous one.

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Finally, the option of a built-in feature will not detach the patients with sexually transmitted diseases, and they are going to be served together with other patients. However, as it was mentioned, such experience can be stressful for the patients with personal information security concerns (Dapaah & Senah, 2016; Goodman, 2016), even though this solution is likely to require few additional costs.

The five-year plan that is meant for the solution should translate the short-term solutions to everyday practice unless better alternatives are found. The measures that can be used to evaluate future suggestions include their alignment with ethical practice and patient-centered care. A plan that is guided by these key features is likely to correspond to the concerns of all the stakeholders and succeed in establishing a better, more secure environment for the vulnerable population of patients with sexually transmitted diseases.

References

Adam, B., Corriveau, P., Elliott, R., Globerman, J., English, K., & Rourke, S. (2014). HIV disclosure as practice and public policy. Critical Public Health, 25(4), 386-397. Web.

Dapaah, J., & Senah, K. (2016). HIV/AIDS clients, privacy and confidentiality; the case of two health centres in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. BMC Medical Ethics, 17(1), 1-10. Web.

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Goodman, K. (2016). Ethics, medicine, and information technology: Intelligent machines and the transformation of health care. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Harman, L. B., & Cornelius, F. H. (2015). Ethical health informatics: Challenges and opportunities. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Hoyt, R. E., & Yoshihashi, A. (2016). Health informatics: Practical guide for healthcare and information technology professionals: sixth edition supplement. Raleigh, NC: Lulu.

Stutterheim, S. E., Sicking, L., Baas, I., Brands, R., Roberts, H., van Brakel, W. H.,… & Bos, A. E. (2016). Disclosure of HIV status to health care providers in the Netherlands: A qualitative study. Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, 27(4), 485-494.

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