A Medical Records Essential: Privacy

In his Dec. 22 op-ed, “Connecting the Medical Dots,” Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt made some good points about the need for health information technology systems to be interoperable. However, Mr. Leavitt missed the mark on consumer protections and privacy. When it concerns health IT, the devil is in the details.

Central to building electronic medical records systems is the question of who will gain from this massive endeavor. We, the patients, would gain from a reduction in prescription errors, and increased efficiency would benefit both patients and providers. But gains could be made moot by outsiders with malicious intent. Medical data brokers purchase the private records of innocent Americans and then share our information for marketing purposes and financial gain. This kind of activity can directly affect our opportunities for jobs, insurance and credit.

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