Pebble Beach, CA Electronic Records May Have Benefits, But Many Worry About Privacy Issuesby Richard Kuehn on 10/05/12
Many people, including myself, are skeptical about jumping into the electronic age with both feet as far as medical records go, due in large part to privacy issues. My doctor has my records online, and I can see the pros and cons of this. Of course, physicians, hospitals and others will be required to keep things confidential unless you give them your permission to disclose them. But in this day and age of common identity theft and credit card fraud, it doesn't seem far-fetched to think that someone might be able to hack into your electronic medical records. There are, of course, many positives to having medical records electronic, including having better information available to treat you in the case of the emergency. But that's not the only benefit. According to a report published on Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, patients who have access to doctor's notes in their medical records are more likely to understand their health issues, recall what the doctor told them, and take their medications as prescribed. The research study looked at a project called Open-Notes, which allows patients to view everything a doctor puts into their files, even things which are noted after you leave the office. Still, this voluntary project had trouble initially because even doctors were skeptical. Some refused to participate in the program because they thought it would lead to too many inquiries from patients, while others said their notes about obesity or other sensitive issues might scare or offend patients. The study found that most of these fears were unfounded, and patients who participating in the study said it made them feel more in control of their care and adhere more to what the doctor ordered. I hope further research is done in this area because it made a lot of good points. Some errors were found by patients in their files which the doctors were able to correct. So it seems that this type of back and forth between doctor and patient could improve medical records over the long run.