It is 2013, and it is just not practical to have rows and rows of cabinets filled with patient folders and paper medical records. Plus, it is not environmentally friendly, either. Digital records save paper and time, but is that at the cost of patient privacy and safety?
And the Answer Is…
The simple answer is “no.” Mobile health apps, and modern initiatives like Health 2.0, can keep track of digital medical records and facilitate telemedicine, or health care at a distance. The Netherlands embraced these new technologies, and now keeps 99% of national medical records in electronic form. A 1990s Commonwealth Fund study revealed that Danish doctors were saving up to 30 minutes a day with electronic prescriptions and lab reports. How can we be sure that all of these practices are safe?
The government is funding research efforts. In February 2009, the president signed the Hitech, or Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health, Act. The act grants over 27 billion dollars in funding for digital health care and electronic record keeping. Today, healthcare apps are already providing HIPAA compliant messaging, or secure texting. Secure texting encrypts medical data and patient records for safe, and private, electronic communication and record keeping.
Whether you want to convert files to digital records, or send patient information through secure texting, know that government regulations are in place to protect patient privacy, and continues to research ways of improving electronic medical records.