Who reads their medical records? Most people don’t bat an eye about access while they are young and healthy. As we grow older and our bodies do not work as well as they once did, we may want our records on-hand in the event of an emergency. Many people are fighting for digital records that you can access from home, but some officials are concerned about prioritizing convenience over safety. Let’s take a look at a few pros and cons of digitizing health records, so you can decide where you stand.
Have you ever had a health emergency? It could have been tonsillitis or a broken bone. Most of us have either been in an emergency, or know someone who has. Imagine you have an emergency away from your town. Having your records on hand can be useful when you go to the hospital, especially if you have a chronic condition.
Although you may love your doctor, you never know when they will leave your office, or when you need to see a specialist. Changing doctors is infrequent, but it does happen, and having access to your records means not waiting months for your old clinic to send them over.
Seeing A Pattern
Contrary to what some doctors say, they are not always right. If you believe you have persistent symptoms, it can be useful to look through your medical records and determine how long and how often you bring this up. There are cases of patients figuring out their health problems before their doctor does, so having full access to everything the doctor has could possibly save lives.
Everyone who works in healthcare is familiar with HIPAA. This law protects patients’ safety by only allowing a select group of people access to health records. If digital records were implemented, offices would have to determine a HIPAA-compliant way to set up their patients’ accounts, which can be difficult.
The people who will want their records the most are the elderly and the sick. While elders can learn new technology, many of them do not exhibit the best safety practices. They may log in to the database from a public computer and save their password, for instance. While this is not the clinic’s fault, it is still a concern that should be taken seriously.
If digital records were granted to patients, there would need to be a huge increase in cyber security to prevent hacks. In the event of a hack, the damage could be devastating. Health records containing vital information could be available to the public, making the patient a target for crime or harassment. Unlike the previous point, this would be the responsibility of the tech company, making them open to a hefty lawsuit.
It is likely that we will see digital health records in our lifetime, but what risks do we take by going that route? More importantly, are the risks worth the convenience? There may not be a true answer, but I believe it is something to consider.