Saturday, February 23, 2008

EHR/EMR: Pro vs Con

Search engine behemoth Google plans to join other internet biggies in offering on-line storage of one's medical records:
A few months ago, Mike wrote about similar efforts by the MVNHS©, whose providers overwhelmingly approved of (at least) the concept.
The idea is to make it easier for folks to both access their own info and make that info available to healthcare providers. The major benefit of such a service is to allow providers real-time access to pertinent (and perhaps life-saving) medical info on their patients. Another advantage is that it makes it less onerous when folks need to recall their own medical histories when faced with, for example, an ER visit.
There are some potential downsides, of course. Chief among these is the potential theft (or breach) of such data. We've all read the stories about stolen credit card info, and the risk is there for any electronically-stored records.
Another concern would be "unauthorized" access to this data; by, for example, employers (or potential employers), or even insurers. As to the latter, I really don't see a problem: we've written before about the MIB, and this seems to me an extension of that tool. As to the former, well, that is problemmatic: what does one say if/when a prospective employer requests access? That's not so cut-and-dry.
Still, rejecting new tech because of potential problems seems ill-advised. And the benefits seem genuinely, um, beneficial. And of course, one can't unring the bell: this stuff is already here (or on the way), so perhaps the discussion needs to be about the safeguards.
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