Ethical, legal and social issues for personal health records and applications

Reid Cushman, Michael Froomkin, Anita Cava, Patricia Abril, Kenneth W. Goodman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Project HealthDesign included funding of an ethical, legal and social issues (ELSI) team, to serve in an advisory capacity to the nine design projects. In that capacity, the authors had the opportunity to analyze the personal health record (PHR) and personal health application (PHA) implementations for recurring themes. PHRs and PHAs invert the long-standing paradigm of health care institutions as the authoritative data-holders and data-processors in the system. With PHRs and PHAs, the individual is the center of his or her own health data universe, a position that brings new benefits but also entails new responsibilities for patients and other parties in the health information infrastructure. Implications for law, policy and practice follow from this shift. This article summarizes the issues raised by the first phase of Project HealthDesign projects, categorizing them into four topics: privacy and confidentiality, data security, decision support, and HIPAA and related legal-regulatory requirements. Discussion and resolution of these issues will be critical to successful PHR/PHA implementations in the years to come.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S51-S55
JournalJournal of biomedical informatics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Application
  • ELSI
  • Ethics
  • Health
  • PHA
  • PHR
  • Personal
  • Record

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Health Informatics


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