Thursday, November 10, 2011

Electronic Personal Health Records Raise Public Security Concerns

It's becoming more mainstream over the last few years for the health care industry to keep patients personal health care records electronically. As defined by Wikipedia, "An electronic health record (EHR) (also electronic patient record/computerised patient record/electronic medical record) is an evolving concept defined as a systematic collection of electronic health information about individual patients or populations" (Wikipedia)

While technology has evolved over the years, a concern that has yet to be thoroughly addressed remains elusive. Keeping patients personal identifying information secure has proved to be challenging for the technology industry. 

 The advantages of an Electronic Health Care Record are undoubtedly obvious.

        a.  There is a cost reduction, (no paper/ink being used).
        b.  Medicine based on promotion of evidence
        c.  The ease of access and mobility of the record keeping
        d.  Improving your quality of care (reduction of errors)

While the advantages are obvious, the disadvantages are astonishing and should be weighed carefully.

       a.  Transferring old records may be problematic
       b.  Start Up costs & maintenance of equipment
       c.  Additional staffing and training requirements
       d.  Accessibility to hardware
       e.  Protecting Patients Personal Information
       f.  Sharing/Transferring Patients Medical History Over A Wide Area Network

One extremely important issue brings up another whole host of concerns. That is the security of your Privacy, as mentioned prior in 'ease of access'.  Wikipedia and the Wall Street Journal addressing Privacy and Security concerns:

1. "The privacy of electronic records is supposed to be protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountabilty Act of 1996, but there are obvious and gaping problem.  Frequently raised concerns include nosy clerks especially at satellite institutions like pharmacies, unauthorized remote intrusion, court orders, and a lack of action by regulators who take complaints. Mostly overlooked is the fact that software owners like Microsoft will have unfettered access to any medical record that any Windows system has access to. Google recently proved that Microsoft was spying on ordinary users, so the threat is no longer a theoretical matter of the company exercising the broad rights to snoop they gave themselves in their EULAs a decade ago with or without your permission." (Wikipedia)

 2.  HIPAA has special restrictions on psychotherapy records, but Psychotherapy records can also be disclosed without the client's knowledge or permission, according to the Journal. For example, Patricia Galvin, a lawyer in San Francisco, saw a psychologist at Stanford Hospital & Clinics after her  fiancĂ© committed suicide. Her therapist had assured her that her records would be confidential. But after she applied for disability benefits, Stanford gave the insurer her therapy notes, and the insurer denied her benefits based on what Galvin claims were a misinterpretation of the notes. Stanford had merged her notes with her general medical record, and the general medical record wasn't covered by HIPAA restrictions. (Wikipedia)

As of 2007, the Government Accountability Office reports that there is a "jumble of studies and vague policy statements but no overall strategy to ensure that privacy protections would be built into computer networks linking insurers, doctors, hospitals and other health care providers."

You can read the entire article here: Electronic health record - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Having peace of mind knowing that the security of your personal health information stays private, and it is of utmost concern. Until the Government implements strategic rules and passes laws on these Privacy and Security issues, there is no guarantee that storing your  health records electronically can be secure.

There is a convenient, easier way to store all of your personal health records while maintaining your privacy. It's affordable, private and portable; making it extremely easy in an emergencyto convey the information needed to those providing you careif you cannot effectively communicate. Keep your entire history of medications, hospital visits, surgeries and procedures, blood counts and charts, insurance information, doctors and caregivers, important contacts, appointment calendar, and so much more in a MedTrakker Personal Health Record. Patients no longer have to worry about keeping appointment cards, pieces of paper that get mis-placed, or fading memories of your personal health care.

Store loose papers in your MedTrakker with its convenient pockets until you're ready to file them. Get your physicians/caregivers to fill in your information for you. As time goes on, you can discard what is no longer needed. It's a great way to stay organized, while keeping everyone involved in your health care up-to-date. MedTrakker medical organizers are an excellent instrument to encourage powerful communication with your entire healthcare team.

   The medical organizers are available exclusively online at: http://www.medtrakker.com/
Find us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/MedTrakker

1 comment:

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