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EGE to adopt an opinion on IT in the healthcare sector

Th European Group on Ethics (EGE) will adopt an opinion on the use of information technologies in the healthcare sector on 30 July 1999 in Helsinki, Finland, where the EGE will participate in a conference on 'New dimensions of learning in the Information Society', organised by...
Th European Group on Ethics (EGE) will adopt an opinion on the use of information technologies in the healthcare sector on 30 July 1999 in Helsinki, Finland, where the EGE will participate in a conference on 'New dimensions of learning in the Information Society', organised by the Finnish Presidency of the EU.

According to the EGE, the rapid increase in the use of computers in society has important ramifications for the healthcare sector where a lot of data needs to be processed. However, because of the intrinsically sensitive nature of healthcare data, 'computerisation' raises serious ethical questions. This is particularly relevant for medical data touching on intimate details of a person's health, such as their physical or mental state, sexuality or lifestyle, for example.

The EGE will examine the advantages and risks of introducing information technologies into the healthcare sector, and will consider its impact on the relationship between health professionals and patients. It will consider international and European level instruments and the EU Member States' national legislation with regard to data protection and medical secrecy. The EGE will also have a closer look at the situation in the USA.

The opinion itself will focus on patients' rights to privacy and confidentiality, to equal access to healthcare services and the quality of such services. It will also consider other questions such as the safety of applied systems, and the liability or the ownership of medical data.
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