Inherent Vice and Its Relation to Personal Health Information Management
Nathan E Botts
/ Categories: Privacy, Safety, Security

Inherent Vice and Its Relation to Personal Health Information Management

Managing privacy, security, and safety as your health information technologies decline

In the field of archival science, the term 'inherent vice' refers to the internal qualities or elements of certain objects that make them naturally prone to deterioration, regardless of the quality of care they receive (Menne-Haritz, 1993). When applying this concept to personal health information management (PHIM), it becomes a metaphor for the challenges that are inherently present in managing health information.

Inherent Vice in Personal Health Information Management

In the context of PHIM, inherent vice can be interpreted as the natural susceptibility of health information systems to errors, omissions, and inaccuracies, arising from factors such as human error, system limitations, and evolving technology standards (Agaku et al., 2014). It may also include the innate vulnerability of such systems to security breaches and unauthorized access, potentially leading to violations of privacy and confidentiality.

The inherent vice in PHIM could originate from numerous factors, such as lack of standardization, data entry errors, outdated software, or hardware malfunctions. For example, data entry errors, a common source of inherent vice, could occur when health professionals enter patient information into electronic health records (EHRs). These inaccuracies could lead to misinterpretations and misdiagnoses, potentially causing harm to the patient (Weiskopf & Weng, 2013).

Implications for Health Outcomes

The inherent vice of health information systems poses significant implications for health outcomes. It can lead to inaccuracies in medical records, potentially affecting the quality of care received by patients. For example, inaccurate medication lists could lead to medication errors, potentially causing adverse drug events (Kuperman et al., 2003).

Moreover, inherent vice could also implicate patients' privacy. Privacy breaches could occur due to weak security measures in health information systems, causing unauthorized access to sensitive health information (Smith et al., 2017).

Mitigating Inherent Vice in Personal Health Information Management

While inherent vice may be unavoidable to a certain extent, various strategies can be employed to mitigate its impact on PHIM. These include implementing robust data validation procedures, standardizing data entry processes, investing in up-to-date technology, and regularly training health professionals in accurate data entry and system usage (Menachemi & Collum, 2011).

For instance, standardized data entry procedures could minimize data entry errors, thereby enhancing the accuracy of patient records. Furthermore, robust data validation procedures could ensure the reliability and consistency of health information, contributing to improved health outcomes (Hillestad et al., 2005).

In conclusion, inherent vice poses considerable challenges to personal health information management. However, by understanding these challenges and implementing appropriate mitigation strategies, it is possible to manage this inherent vice and improve the quality and security of personal health information.


  • Agaku, I. T., Adisa, A. O., Ayo-Yusuf, O. A., & Connolly, G. N. (2014). Concern about security and privacy, and perceived control over collection and use of health information are related to withholding of health information from healthcare providers. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 21(2), 374-378.
  • Hillestad, R., Bigelow, J., Bower, A., Girosi, F., Meili, R., Scoville, R., & Taylor, R. (2005). Can electronic medical record systems transform health care? Potential health benefits, savings, and costs. Health Affairs, 24(5), 1103-1117.
  • Kuperman GJ, Bobb A, Payne TH, Avery AJ, Gandhi TK, Burns G, et al. Medication-related clinical decision support in computerized provider order entry systems: a review. J Am Med Inform Assoc 2007;14(1):29-40
Previous Article Why you should care about controlling your personal health data
Next Article EPIC's Call to Arms: Protecting Consumer Data
1392 Rate this article:
2Upvote 0Downvote
Please login or register to post comments.

How to Protect Your Privacy as More Apps Harvest Your Data

A New York Times Personal Tech series article by Brian X. Chen

Retrieved By Health eConsultation 0 15090 Article rating: 5.0

In this article written by Brian X. Chen from the New York Times he discusses some of the potential ways in which mobile apps that you download to your phone may be collecting and using your personal data in ways you did not know.

One of the key takeaways is that there are ways in which to protect yourself and tools that can help you figure out which apps are collecting your data and how to remove their ability to do so.

Stay Private: How to Hide Your Webcam, Mute Your Mic, and Turn Off Notifications

An article from Zapier

Nathan E Botts 0 15071 Article rating: 5.0

One consideration as you gather and store more personal health information on your computer and devices is making sure that you are not inadvertently sharing this information (or some other aspect of your personal health) through your webcam or mic.

This article from Zapier outlines several different ways and some handy applications that can help you control this on your PC or MAC.

Determining the Value of Compromising Your Privacy

An article from Engadget

Nathan E Botts 0 10137 Article rating: No rating

This article from the Engadget web magazine discusses how your online searching behaviors might be monitored by different companies that you are unaware about. This data is likely used to build profiles that may impact the advertisements you see, credit ratings received, and other potential social network aspects as of yet identified. 

Cybersecurity: Crash Course Computer Science #31

Retrieved By Health eConsultation 0 14751 Article rating: No rating

Cybersecurity: Crash Course Computer Science #31Cybersecurity is a set of techniques to protect the secrecy, integrity, and availability of computer systems and data against threats. In today’s episode, we’re going to unpack these three goals and talk through some strategies we use like passwords, biometrics, and access privileges to keep our information as secure, but also as accessible as possible. From massive Denial of Service, or DDos attacks, to malware and brute force password cracking there are a lot of ways for hackers to gain access to your data, so we’ll also discuss some strategies like creating strong passwords, and using 2-factor authentication, to keep your information safe. Check out Computerphile’s wonderful video on how to choose a password! Pre-order our limited edition Crash Course: Computer Science Floppy Disk Coasters here! Produced in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios: Want to know more about Carrie Anne? The Latest from PBS Digital Studios: Want to find Crash Course elsewhere on the internet? Facebook - Twitter - Tumblr - Support Crash Course on Patreon: CC Kids:


What is Health eDefense?

Health eDefense is the act of protecting your personal health information. This not only protects your privacy, security, and safety, but also protects the data of your family, friends, and others in your community.

The Health eDefense platform is dedicated to providing consumers with actionable information on how to protect their personal health information effectively from cyber threats. Health eDefense provides informational content and education related to cyber security, privacy and consent, security, and related topics and policies such as HIPAA and GDPR.

Cyber security is impacting our daily lives, and our personal and protected health information is a target for hackers and criminals looking to make money off of our personal data. Your personal health data will always be about your health, demographics, social, lifestyle, financial history, and other related details. Once taken, they cannot be taken back.

We think the best cybersecurity tool is education and awareness, and we hope to provide users with tools and insight to protect themselves and their data better.