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The inherent vice in PHIM could originate from numerous factors, such as lack of standardization, data entry errors, outdated software, or hardware malfunctions.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
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