Analysis: Health IT’s privacy factor

Uploading healthcare records nationwide to an electronic system could increase efficiency and lower cost but, if done incorrectly, may pose serious threats to patient privacy, experts say. Health IT has emerged as one of the most bipartisan aspects of healthcare reform and could save the nation $162 billion annually by increasing prevention, chronic care management, efficiency and safety standards, according to a recent RAND Corp. study.
Several policymakers have proposed legislation this session that would encourage rapid adoption of electronic health records. However, despite the benefits associated with upgrading the healthcare industry’s recordkeeping abilities, the effort could undermine patient privacy, said Deborah Peel, founder and chairman of Patient Privacy Rights, a foundation that promotes secure health records.
Electronic medical records currently in use already have serious security concerns, Peel said.
“Today we know databases of medical records are not safe,” she said at a meeting Wednesday on Health IT and patient privacy sponsored by the Progressive Policy Institute. “The problem is, the major use of electronic records today is not to take care of sick people.”

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