During a question and answer session with the Texas Tribune last week, National Coordinator for Health IT David Blumenthal explained some of the benefits patients will see when health care providers transition to electronic health records, as well as efforts to keep consumers in control of how their health care information is used.
In the interview, Blumenthal listed several positive results that will emerge from the transition to EHRs, including:
- Having access to patient medical records in an emergency department even when a patient's physician office is closed; and
- The elimination of excessive paperwork.
Privacy, Age Concerns
Blumenthal said that officials need to assure patients that their records would remain equally or more secure than they were on paper.
In response to reports of patient records being sold to research companies, Blumenthal said that the federal government, states, and individual hospitals and physicians share responsibility to enforce privacy rules and prevent unauthorized sharing of medical information.
Considering possible age barriers to EHR adoption, Blumenthal said that transitioning to EHRs would make it easier for health care providers "who are on the verge of retirement ... to replace themselves with a young physician," adding that "having an office that is already electronic will be a big asset."
Issues for Rural Hospitals
According to Blumenthal, the transition to EHRs for small, rural hospitals should not be "impossible."
However, he said that rural facilities may have fewer resources to put toward health IT (Chang, Texas Tribune, 10/21).