Electronic Records Are Key to Health-Care Reform

BusinessWeek reader William Yasnoff says Obama must make electronic medical records a top priority in his economic stimulus plan.

The current worldwide financial crisis is transforming the problem of rising U.S. health-care costs into a dire threat to our entire economy, making health-care reform an increasingly urgent priority. Any potential approach to restructuring health care must include universal electronic medical records so that both patient care and policy decisions are fully informed. In his weekly address to the nation on Dec. 6, President-elect Barack Obama made a commitment to this goal as part of his economic recovery plan. But what exactly needs to be done to achieve this?…

Privacy First

Just as you control the funds in your checking account, you would retain sole authority over access to any portion of your medical records in a health record bank. Normally, you would make the complete records available to your own doctors and to health-care personnel treating you in an emergency. You would have access to your records yourself (including the ability to add information if you wished) and would be able to see exactly who else has accessed your records and when. With your permission, your information could be aggregated with others’ data into anonymized reports for public health officials, medical researchers, and policymakers.

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