Paperless Medicine?

Electronic medical records that follow patients from doctor to doctor. Hospitals with instantaneous online access to lab results and health histories. Disease researchers with a state’s worth of field data at their fingertips. It all hinges on a single question: Can Texas physicians go paperless?

…But even the most ardent supporters acknowledge they face an uphill battle. Consumer rights advocates fear e-records could jeopardize patient privacy. Some health care providers aren’t convinced e-records benefit their practice — or their bottom line. And until recently, the only software on the market was clunky and complicated, fueling doctors’ skepticism.

…“The health and financial information that goes along with being treated in a hospital or a doctor’s office is incredibly valuable,” says Deborah Peel, founder and chair of the Austin-based nonprofit Patient Privacy Rights. “Once your sensitive health information is sold or lost, you can’t ever make that information private again.”

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