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Privacy Medicine IT Your Rights Online

Patient Access To Electronic Medical Records Strengthened By New HHS Rules 53

dstates writes "The Department of Health and Human Services has released newly revised rules for the Health Information Privacy and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to ensure patient access to electronic copies of their electronic medical records. Several years ago, there was a great deal of excitement about personalized health information management (e.g. Microsoft HealthVault and Google Health). Unfortunately, patients found it difficult to obtain their medical records from providers in formats that could easily be imported. Personalized health records were time consuming and difficult to maintain, so these initiatives have not lived up to their expectations (e.g. Google Health has been discontinued). The new rules should address this directly and hopefully will revitalize interest in personal health information management. The new HIPAA rules also greatly strengthen patient privacy, the ability of patients to control who sees their medical information, and increases the penalties for leaking medical records information. 'Much has changed in health care since HIPAA was enacted over fifteen years ago,' said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. 'The new rule will help protect patient privacy and safeguard patients' health information in an ever expanding digital age.'"
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Patient Access To Electronic Medical Records Strengthened By New HHS Rules

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  • by Gim Tom ( 716904 ) on Saturday January 19, 2013 @11:54AM (#42633765)
    A recent experience in my family made me fully aware of how important immediate access to personal medical records can be and how difficult they can be to obtain at times.

    A family member had been hospitalized and surgery was indicated. However, the current CT image showed something that may contraindicate surgery if it was new, but would not do so if it was an artifact of a previous surgery many years before. The only way they could tell was to compare the current image with an image several years old, but after the prior surgery. There was such imaging done at a different hospital about 20 miles away about eight years prior and the doctor learned that they did have the image archived. However, the only way to get the image to him was for someone to drive to the hospital and bring a copy of it back on a CD. I made that trip and the CD showed that the suspicious object on the CT scan was an artifact from a surgery over a decade prior.

    This made me realize how important having one's own copy of complete medical records could be. It would be so easy to have them on even a small thumb drive and they could be encrypted for security. The real problem is getting the medical community to give the patient those records in electronic format, and that format should be an open and published format and not in any way proprietary.
  • For what cost? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pubwvj ( 1045960 ) on Saturday January 19, 2013 @12:22PM (#42633857)

    A year or so ago our doctor switched over to electronic records. Now they want $75 per person for us to get a copy of our records as an administrative fee. All they need to do is print the records off of the computer. Minimal labor, minimal cost, not even very many pages. They're just using the fact that they're now electronic records as a means to collect more fees. It is greed on the doctor's part, plain and simple.

Adding features does not necessarily increase functionality -- it just makes the manuals thicker.