When my mom was battling cancer, she decided to seek additional input from a cancer center miles away. She went to her oncologist to collect her medical records, only to discover they were stored in several different places. My mom was weak and sick from chemotherapy, yet she traipsed from hospital to hospital to collect medical files, pathology reports and scan films. I remember her saying at the time, “Why can’t they all be in one place?”
Experiences like this have convinced me of the benefits of electronic medical records. Imagine how much easier it would have been for my mom to just send an electronic version of her medical files to the cancer center.
But now that big companies like Microsoft and Google are getting into the medical record storage business, a fascinating piece in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine raises important questions about whether medical privacy rules should be extended to these private firms. All you have to do is order a book on Amazon and you can quickly see how every move you make online is tracked by marketers.