E-Records: Balancing Convenience with Patient Privacy

Lora Bentley
Slide Show

Patient Records: A Crisis Waiting to Happen

Not only are breaches continuing to happen on a regular basis, they are costing about $2 million each.

The Obama Administration may be all about health care reform and electronic medical records right now, but the Veteran's Administration can't seem to get with the program-at least not with the electronic records part of the program.


But wait, the VA doesn't have a problem with official VA electronic medical records systems. It's all the other systems out there that VA clinicians can't use.


Government Health IT reported last week that the VA prohibits its clinical personnel from using online applications such as Google Docs, a shared Yahoo calendar or any other cloud-based collaboration and/or storage tools.


No matter how helpful it is for physicians to be able to access their notes outside the VA hospitals, or for everyone in an orthopedic surgery department to be kept abreast of who's doing what surgery on whom and when, use of any tools that are outside the VA systems and control is forbidden.


VA CIO Roger Baker said:

I love the tools ... We have to figure out how to embrace those and at the same time be sure that we are providing the privacy and health information protections that we're committed to doing.

For now, because the VA has no control over whether a clinician stores a patient's personally identifiable information (inadvertently or otherwise) in those tools, he says the answer has to be "don't use them."

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Dec 28, 2010 1:01 PM Deborah C. Peel, MD Deborah C. Peel, MD  says:

The VA is right, those tools should never be used for health data. The sites you mentioned do not protect our data from sale, misuse, or theft, patients have no way to control who sees personal health information or whether Google, Yahoo, and clouds sell and use personal data to discriminate against us.

Should we have ways to share our health information safely to coordinate and improve care? YES OF COURSE!

But we should not have to give up privacy to benefit from technology. If banks prevented us from controlling who could see and use our financial information online, would we use be willing to use online banking?  I don't think so.

Many people assume that "free" online services won't harm them. The problem is that personal information IS used to harm you. You should read the WSJ's series called "What they know" at: http://topics.wsj.com/public/page/what-they-know-digital-privacy.html

Dec 29, 2010 11:21 AM josephpatel josephpatel  says:

You guys should stop complaining because, one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed so give it some time. so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. If you do not have insurance and need one You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price search online for "Wise Health Insurance" If you have health insurance and do not care about cost just be happy about it and trust me you are not going to loose anything!


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