An article in the current issue of BusinessWeek looked at issues surrounding widespread implementation of electronic medical records, such privacy concerns.
Some privacy advocates say a central national repository of patient data could be abused and targeted by hackers, BusinessWeek reports. Meanwhile, supporters of electronic records say the systems are more secure than paper records because of the passwords and audit trails that come with electronic records. However, supporters also say there is a greater potential to gain unauthorized access to a large number of files, BusinessWeek reports.
The article recommends that patients worried about privacy ask their physician if sensitive data, such as psychiatric records, are included in their medical records and whether access is restricted, BusinessWeek reports. Patients also should find out how much access insurers and nonmedical groups have to their personal information, BusinessWeek reports.
The article also looks at technology advances in various hospitals nationwide. For example, physicians at the Atlanta Veterans Administration Medical Center order drugs, lab tests and X-rays by computer and type their notes on terminals at nurses' stations and in their offices, BusinessWeek reports. VA offices can access each other's information but not records in private hospitals.
Also, nurses at Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston use mini laptops to look up what drugs a patient is taking when they dispense pills. In addition, nurses use handheld scanners to check bar codes on the drug bottles and on patient wristbands to ensure they are administering the right medication to the right patient, BusinessWeek reports (Cropper, BusinessWeek, 1/25).