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Some patients fear Trump administration may use EHRs to discriminate against them

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With the relentless hacking and infamous cybersecurity breaches becoming increasingly worrisome, patients are quite right to be leery of  having their personal information go into electronic health records. And now, with the Trump administration about to take over in Washington, there’s even more fear.

Writes Marla Durben Hirsch in Fiercehealthcare,  “{T}here is a deeper, darker reason patients might withhold information: the apparent imminent change of our society and its laws post-election.

“President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on a promise he would crack down on immigrants and Muslims. The turn of the nation to the right will likely also affect the LGBTQ community.

“Now it’s not just the fear that an EHR breach will reveal a patient’s medical information and cause financial harm or medical identity theft. Now a breach could affect a patent’s personal safety if information is used against them.

“For instance, section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act prohibits providers from discriminating against patients on the basis of sex, including sexual identity. The rule implementing this provision was just finalized. Providers are being encouraged to add to their EHRs preferred names of transgendered patients if they differ from the gender on their drivers’ licenses and include other identifying information into the systems.

“But if the Affordable Care Act is repealed and LGBTQ people lose these protections, they may face discrimination or harassment. So what happens if patients don’t tell providers that they are LGBTQ? Physicians could miss conditions that affect their patients at a higher rate, such as depression and substance abuse. A physician might miss important cancer screening tests if transgender patients don’t feel safe sharing personal information.”

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