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Monday, February 15, 2010

Electronic medical records - blessing or bane?

How secure will your medical privacy remain as the healthcare industry shifts to electronic medical records?
Proponents argue that electronic medical records will save healthcare costs and reduce medical errors; many in Government agree.
However, according to reports of a November 2009 study in the American Journal of Medicine, claims of efficiencies from computerizing hospital system records "rest on scant data."
Doubts about privacy also persist.
According to a reputable poll, many Americans think electronic records will be about as secure as political secrets in Washington, DC. The pollsters report:
There are also significant concerns about the privacy of online health records. Roughly six in ten Americans (59 percent) lack confidence that EMR systems would be able to protect the confidentiality of patients’ records.

And an even larger percentage (76 percent) say they think it is at least somewhat likely that “an unauthorized person” would get access to their records if they were placed online.

Given the documented concern among the public about the privacy of electronic medical records, it's hard to believe that General Electric would air this commercial to promote their electronic record keeping system.

The commercial features a nervous patient in his boxers on an exam table, asking a doctor about a health question. Suddenly, to the obvious dismay of the patient, a whole room full of the patient's previous doctors appears.
One by one, the physicians, medical records in hand, stand to talk about the patient's medical history, with one doctor even noting how she had chastised the patient to quit smoking. Busted.
Armed with this information, the examining doctor appears triumphant. The poor patient meekly asks if he might have his pants back.

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