PHRs, EMRs, Data Security and Other News

Last week I asked you if you were using a Personal Health Record (PHR). I got only one response…from a college friend who is a technical writer. John is involved with a PHR company called medkaz. This company believes that all electronic medical records should be driven by and owned by the patient. Accordingly, they have developed a thumb-drive based product that the consumer will carry around with them. It is fully encrypted, so the privacy of the patient is guaranteed.

I believe the idea is that the patient will bring their personal record with them when they visit a doctor. The doctor can download relevant information of the patient’s choosing into their own electronic medical record (EMR) system. At the end of the visit with the patient, they will upload their note onto the patient’s thumb drive. The doctor can subscribe to this system themselves, but even if they do not, they will be able to use the patient’s information. This is one way to make sure that the people treating you have the most current medical information about you.

Over the course of the last few weeks, the reason for concern about what information health systems have and how they manage it again came into the public light. The Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, CA reported that 20,000 records of emergency room patients had been revealed online by their collection agency…one of their Business Associates. The information had been posted on a web site for just short of one year. One of the affected patients saw the posting of the information and reported it to Stanford Hospital and Clinics.

According to IDExperts, there is good reason for concern about the security of medical data. The street value for a stolen medical identity is $50. Using that information, a Medicare or Medicaid or other insurance fraudster can file claims for services never provided….and often get paid.

In other news this week, the White House has proclaimed September 11-16, 2011 to be National Health Information Technology Week. The purpose of the proclamation is to call attention to and educate the citizenry of the benefits of and need for Health IT that will protect the privacy of the patient and involve patients in their health care.

Finally, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has announced their new website,, designed to become the leading national resource on health IT for both consumers and health care professionals. The goal of the site appears to be to encourage personal responsibility for one’s health and health care through wise use of technology and coordinated efforts with one’s providers.

It was a busy week! Is there news you would like to share?


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