Journal of Primary Health Care Journal of Primary Health Care Society
Journal of The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners
RESEARCH ARTICLE (Open Access)

Patient portals and young people: addressing the privacy dilemma of providing access to health information

Deanne Wong 1 , Sebastian Morgan-Lynch 2
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- Author Affiliations

1 The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, Wellington, New Zealand

2 Office of the Privacy Commissioner, Wellington, New Zealand

Correspondence to: Deanne Wong, PO Box 10-440, Wellington 6143, New Zealand. Email: Deanne.Wong@rnzcgp.org.nz

Journal of Primary Health Care - https://doi.org/10.1071/HC17037
Published online: 25 October 2017

Journal Compilation © Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners 2017.
This is an open access article licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Abstract

Patient portals enable people to access their health information electronically, but concerns about confidentiality and privacy breaches, particularly for young people, may be impeding portal adoption in New Zealand. This paper considers the legal and ethical framework relating to health information privacy and informed consent in New Zealand, and proposes an approach to implementing patient portals for young people. Shared portal access (where both a young person and their parent or guardian have access to the young person’s portal) may be appropriate for young children whose parents or guardians are responsible for their health care. However, as children mature and their capacity to make health care decisions increases, general practitioners will need to consider shifting to independent portal access by competent young people. The circumstances of each young person, including their best interests and rights, cultural needs and their views on information disclosure should be taken into account.

KEYWORDS: E-health; health law; ethics; general practitioners; primary health care; family health care; information management


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