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Sharing health data while protecting privacy

February 29, 2016
University of Notre Dame
How do privacy concerns affect how health data is shared? Research explores privacy laws and their effect on health information exchanges in the United States.

Health information exchanges (HIEs) are health care information technology services designed to coordinate patient care across the fragmented U.S. health care system. Their purpose is to improve efficiency and quality of care through enhanced sharing of patient data. However, this broad sharing of sensitive personal information, potentially without a patient's knowledge or consent, has raised privacy concerns.

Across the United States, numerous states have enacted laws that provide various forms of incentives for health care industries to use HIEs and that address growing privacy concerns associated with the sharing of patient data.

Idris Adjerid, an assistant professor of management at the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business, and his fellow researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Michigan investigated the impact of state laws that incentivize HIE efforts. They also examined state laws that include different types of privacy requirements for sharing health care data on the emergence of HIEs, focusing in particular on the impact of laws that include requirements for patient consent. Although the researchers note that privacy regulation alone can result in fewer planned and operational HIEs, they also found that, when coupled with incentives, privacy regulation with requirements for patient consent can actually positively impact the development of HIE efforts. Among all states with laws creating HIE incentives, only states that combined incentives with consent requirements saw a net increase in operational HIEs. HIEs in those states also reported decreased levels of privacy concern relative to HIEs in states with other legislative approaches.

"Conventional wisdom suggests that increased privacy regulation impedes technological innovation," Adjerid said. "We provide evidence that this is not always the case. Our study highlights that a regulatory approach which balances the promotion of HIE efforts and substantive privacy protections can be most effective in driving useful technology efforts that also present privacy concerns."

The study appears in the journal Management Science,

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Materials provided by University of Notre Dame. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Idris Adjerid, Alessandro Acquisti, Rahul Telang, Rema Padman, Julia Adler-Milstein. The Impact of Privacy Regulation and Technology Incentives: The Case of Health Information Exchanges. Management Science, 2015; DOI: 10.1287/mnsc.2015.2194

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University of Notre Dame. "Sharing health data while protecting privacy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 February 2016. <>.
University of Notre Dame. (2016, February 29). Sharing health data while protecting privacy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from
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