Turn your Head & Cough: Digitized Health Records, Privacy & e-Discovery

J0402701 With all of the discussion of government-sponsored health care these days, lost in the shuffle is a concerted push to digitize health records.  It seems like everyone's getting in on the action; providers, consultants and even the federal government.  In theory, it makes sense for a number of reasons; portability, efficiency, cross-referencing, cost-reduction, and for those who are into 'green technology', lack of paper.  In practice, however…

Let me tell you about my first experience with digitized records.  I've been with an HMO ever since I ventured out on my own.  Save for one short period of time, I've had very competent doctors.  About two – three years ago my provider migrated to digitized records.  The next time I showed up for an appointment, my doctor informed me that she was so frustrated with the new system, she was retiring!

Now, I didn't ask her how old she was (I'd guess late 50s) and as we all know, age-based resistance to new technology is certainly a factor, but there are a host of other worries, such as who's going to be responsible for protecting us from all of this?  The doctors are probably thinking the same thing.  Right or wrong, I doubt they want their records falling into the wrong hands, either.

We know the records are supposed to be confidential, but if the powers that be can't protect our credit card and banking records, how well do we think they're going to do with medical records?  I suppose from the e-discovery side, I should be licking my chops (and perhaps I would be, except that I have medical records just like everyone else!).

Let me tell you about my last experience with digitized records.  I went in for my annual physical and I always have the usual, routine labs.  Unfortunately, all did not go smoothly.  My new, very competent doctor informed me she was having trouble setting up my lab work. 


The computers were down…