The news was abuzz with the finding that nearly 300,000 electronic medical records were placed online, without encryption or security, by a medical representative company, Southern California Medical-Legal Consultants. The owner of that company claims that they “believed the site to be secure.” But it wasn’t.
It wasn’t until a researcher for Identity Finder, Aaron Titus, alerted them to the mistake that they realized that all of those intimate details (full records, including Social Security Numbers, insurance policy numbers, full medical data on patients, and more) were out there for the world to see. No one knows how many times the information was accessed, or by whom.
This incident is another example of the biggest problem with electronic medical records: humans. People get careless and lazy. It’s happened with the old paper records and it’s happening now with some EHRs. Interestingly, no private company holding information as a personal health record (PHR) has, to my knowledge, been compromised or accidentally let the information out to the public. I know MedeFile hasn’t.
A study being done by several researchers and published by BMC Research, is testing the possible outreach methods possible through personal health records (PHRs) to encourage patients to get cholesterol and HIV screening done. The study is using the Department of Veteran’s Affairs new PHR system to conduct its surveys of patients and health care providers.
The preliminary (Phase 1) portion of the study focused on eliciting general perceptions of an outreach program through the PHR to encourage patients to get diabetes, cholesterol, and HIV tests in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) system.
The recent publication of the long-awaited results of a 2009 survey, the National Health Interview Survey, brought to light some interesting facts about who is (and isn’t) using the Internet to get health information. Much of the information revealed by the survey is comprised of things that those in the electronic health records industry were already aware of. Some of it, however, is interesting for sure.
The findings of the National Center for Health Statistics were authored by Robin A. Cohen and Patricia F. Adams and showed that, not surprisingly, women are more likely than men to go online for health information. Here at MedeFile, of course, we know that while most of our clients are couples and families, the main driving force behind the purchase of our services are the women in those relationships.
Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are a related type of medical record to personal health records (PHRs). MedeFile is a PHR system for the patient/individual who wishes to track their own medical records while an EHR is used by doctors, clinics, and hospitals to track large numbers of medical records. Yet the two are closely aligned since the use of a PHR is greatly simplified when access to an EHR is available.
The news has included stories about hospitals, notably one in Canada, that have adopted Apple’s iPad tablet as a tool to make medical record interaction faster and more convenient for authorized hospital staff. The most well-known of those systems is called Drchrono, a free app for the iPad that integrates with common EHR systems. While the app is free, the integration and implementation of it with current electronic systems is not.