The following is a guest post by Reuters contributor Constance Gustke. The opinions expressed are her own. See the full article at http://blogs.reuters.com/reuters-money/2011/08/05/the-road-to-electronic-health-records-is-lined-with-data-thieves/
“The future of your personal health information involves gigantic Internet-driven databases that connect you to doctors, health information and services no matter where you are and what time it is.
With a big push from President Obama, who wants secure electronic health records for every American by 2014, many health insurance companies, hospitals, private practices and pharmacies are already delivering some patient portals using these records as a backbone.
It’s the future of medicine, says Dr. Raymond Casciari, chief medical officer at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, California, but for now, he adds, “We’re still in the dark ages.”
The portal approach is intended to be beneficial, letting you share key medical data instantly with your family and consult with specialists on another continent. It’s supposed to lower healthcare costs and provide better services. But the data being stored is sensitive and so far it isn’t very secure, say experts. So it’s important to know how your medical information is being shared and managed, especially as access explodes.
Dr. Deborah Peel, a psychiatrist and founder of Patient Privacy Rights, is dubious about patient medical privacy on portals. She believes that data breaches can have harmful effects, including medical discrimination. “Today, we can’t see who uses our electronic records,” she warns. “And they can be back-door mined.”…”