Record-sharing stalls

Cash, privacy issues halt effort to electronically link patient information Creating a system for local hospitals and physicians to electronically share medical records could save lives and millions of dollars in health care costs every year.

Knowing that, a Portland group of health care leaders has been working to make it happen.

But a year after the group began its work, the project has stalled — a victim of technological issues, and also of some overbearing financial disincentives: Some of the entities being asked to pay for the system can make a lot more money when the system isn’t in place.

The plan, which would make electronic patient records instantaneously available to all health care providers through a regionwide health information exchange, has been a major focus of the nonprofit Oregon Health Care Quality Corp. since 2003.

{The Portland OR regional health information exchange has stalled over costs, projected lost income from duplicate tests, and the lack of privacy: patients would not control access to their medical records.  According to Jody Pettit, MD, health information technology coordinator with the state’s Office for Oregon Health Policy and Research, the business council’s plan, which would sometimes allow hospitals and physicians to exchange patient health records without the permission of the patient, did not adequately protect patient privacy.  Pettit said she prefers a model that would allow patients to maintain their own electronic medical records and to decide to whom they want to release the data. ~ Dr. Deborah Peel, Patient Privacy Rights}

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