Monday, March 21, 2005

Addressing privacy when moving medical records online

From today's Contra Costa Times (registration required), an article on the promise and perils of online medical records: | 03/21/2005 | Online health records arrive, with privacy concerns:

".... Recently, feeling curious about whether she needed more tests several years after a benign biopsy for breast cancer, she reread her detailed biopsy report online and felt reassured.

'It was very comforting,' said Perlman, a 51-year-old former CEO who lives in Menlo Park and now consults for high-tech companies. 'I feel like I've been able to be much more proactive with things like figuring out for myself what's the right schedule for a physical.'

Perlman's online ventures in medical care are just the beginning. Not far in the future, your entire medical record could be online, available to your doctors, the local emergency room, even the Lake Tahoe hospital that treats you when you break your leg skiing.

The idea is to move those bulging paper patient charts into the digital age, creating a record that travels with you rather than gathering dust in your doctor's office or a hospital's storage warehouse.

Electronic medical records, say health experts, can help cut health care costs and improve patient safety. For example, they can help doctors avoid prescribing a drug that might interact badly with one you're already taking or eliminate duplicative -- and expensive -- lab tests...."

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