Privacy and Health Information: The United States and the European Union

13 Pages Posted: 7 Apr 2015

See all articles by Leslie P. Francis

Leslie P. Francis

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law

Date Written: 2015


Many important public health, health research, and treatment goals can be furthered by the use of health information. Privacy protection, as the EU recognizes, is an important aspect for facilitating the use and transfer of this information. All too often, privacy is seen as a barrier to information use, but without adequate assurances that data will be safeguarded appropriately, there are risks that data will not be shared at all. 106 Providing such assurances is a primary impetus for the EU’s revision of its current data protection law.

As the EU moves towards adopting and implementing its proposed regulatory changes, it will be important to monitor the impacts on public health and medical research both within and beyond the borders of its member states. For the US, one concern will be whether the EU’s increasingly stringent privacy protections will require revision of the safe harbor framework. There may also be growing divergence between the EU’s overarching approach to the protection of personal information and the US’s segmented approach that imposes very different restrictions on information within and outside of the HIPAA rules. Those interested in the responsible use of health information in the US might be well advised to watch how the EU’s proposed Regulation plays out in the treatment of health information, especially the implementation of the provisions of Articles 81 and 83 governing the use of information for public health, improvement of health care, and medical research.

Suggested Citation

Francis, Leslie P., Privacy and Health Information: The United States and the European Union (2015). Kentucky Law Journal, Vol. 103, 2015. Available at SSRN: or

Leslie P. Francis (Contact Author)

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )

383 S. University Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States

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