Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 113–124 | Cite as

On the adoption of personal health records: some problematic issues for patient empowerment

  • Paraskevas Vezyridis
  • Stephen Timmons
Original Paper


The development of electronic personal health records by independent vendors and national health systems is understood to empower patients and create a new kind of consumerism in healthcare. With more personal health information (PHI) at hand, active participation in the management of health and rational purchasing of healthcare services will be possible. Healthcare systems will also be able to contain costs and achieve sustainability. Based on a careful examination of the literature, we argue that many of the declared benefits of this technology are rather unattainable. As the boundaries between the public and private healthcare sectors become blurred and as employers struggle to reduce health insurance expenses, this proclaimed ‘consumer empowerment in healthcare’ is an attempt to introduce a technology and a business model for centralising all relevant PHI to render them economic. We reflect on the consequences for the ‘empowered’ user and we suggest that this new market device has to separate and individually address sufficiently issues of privacy, confidentiality and security before it can claim a place in the digital healthcare ecosystem.


Personal health records Empowerment Consumerism Privacy Market 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Health Innovation, Leadership and LearningNottingham University Business SchoolNottinghamUK

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