The Upside of Electronic Health Records – Will This Be Possible?

In a world where a Twitter tweet can be heard around the world instantly, a friend’s video on YouTube can go viral overnight, and you can speak to anyone online across the globe without using a phone, it seems backwards that the local hospital may still be keeping your medical information in a filing cabinet. This situation is starting to change, however, as healthcare providers around the world introduce increasingly sophisticated IT systems to securely store and share patient data.

Having electronic medical information available to any doctor you visit, any time, for any reason can be extremely timesaving, efficient and of course lifesaving.

The key to electronic healthcare documents being accessible to everyone lies in:

  • Secure electronic storage of patient data in a format that can be accessed and updated as necessary by healthcare professionals.
  • The distribution to patients of smart cards that can be used for storing medical information (such as blood group, allergies and treatment history), verifying their identity, carrying prescriptions and making health insurance claims.
  • A fully integrated e-healthcare system makes it possible for a doctor to upload a prescription onto a national database and the patient’s personal smart card at the same time. The patient then takes the smart card to a drugstore, where the pharmacist can insert it into a reader to confirm the details of the prescription. Meanwhile, those details are now on the database so that other medical professionals can view them as necessary.

The downside of digitizing medical documents is that opening up sensitive personal data to greater numbers of people can increase the risk of it being viewed by unauthorized parties. This can lead to identity theft if proper checks and balances in security are not put in place.

So ultimately, the key challenge for healthcare organizations lies in striking a balance between making a system easy to use and ensuring that watertight security controls are in place.

Robert Siciliano, personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto and author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! . Disclosures

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