Protect My Privacy or Support the Common-Good? The Social Dilemma of the Opt-In versus Opt-Out Decision Related to Electronic Health Information Exchanges
19 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2009
Date Written: March 6, 2009
Recently the popular press has given considerable attention to the debate surrounding the digitization of personal medical information. Something as seemingly innocuous as transforming a paper medical chart into an electronic format so that it can be stored in a database and made available to other parties electronically would seem to be of little interest or concern to the American public. Yet, consumer privacy-advocacy groups have been actively and vociferously lobbying federal and local governments to take a formal position on not only the legality of this action, but also asking them to take into account the perceived wishes of the American public. As this debate continues, some health care providers, insurers, laboratories, pharmacies, and other healthcare stakeholders continue to create and retroactively digitize our medical information with the unambiguous endorsement of the federal government. Some argue that these enormous databases of medical information offer improved access to timely information, evidence-based treatments, and complete records from which to provide care. To the extent that these claims are true, it would seem that this is a valuable asset that offers immeasurable benefit to all. Drawing on a theoretical base of social dilemmas, I investigate the research question, Should individuals consider their private health information a public good, in which case the decision to allow its digitization poses an intriguing social dilemma?
Keywords: Electronic Medical Record, EMR, Personal Health Record, PHR, EHR, Electronic Healthr Record, Health Information Exchange, HIE, Privacy, Social Dilemma
JEL Classification: I12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation