Friday, May. 2nd 2014

Massive Medical Record Database Is Being Created

     The government is collecting the medical records of more than 30 million Americans to create one massive database for the purpose of research, and it’s causing many people to become concerned about privacy. Advances in technology have allowed for the emergence of medical record databases known as EMRs (electronic medical record.) EMR use is becoming more widespread across the medical community, allowing physicians and patients to have better control over the quality of patient care by tracking medical histories, medications, vaccinations, test results and any health issues.

     Medical records will be collected through the fall of 2015 by a non-profit organization, Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, or PCORI, which Congress created as part of the Affordable Care Act. The PCORI will fund and coordinate research on “comparative effectiveness” to find out which drugs and treatment options are more effective than others. Current studies are often too small or have patients with a single condition instead of patients with multiple issues, and these studies often contradict each other. Having a large repository of patient information to compare will assist researchers in obtaining evidence of what treatments work.

     Patients are concerned about their personal information being used without their consent. Most are unaware that one of the forms they signed if they visited a doctor or hospital since 2010 allows medical information to be used for research. The data to be extracted from the medical record includes family history, vaccinations, referrals for treatment, diagnoses and medications. Personal information such as the patient name, date of birth, social security number, or address are retained by organizations under the PCORI, and researchers must have approval for the anonymized records. 

     Even in incidences without any personally identifiable information collected, there is a concern about hackers getting access. The federal government implemented the HIPAA Security Rule, which requires that health care providers set up physical, administrative, and technical safeguards to protect your electronic health information. 

     You have given your permission to have your healthcare information shared, and the government has put in place security to ensure that your information is protected. The risk is being minimized so that the information being shared can help improve future diagnosis, understanding and treatment of disease and illness.

For more information, please visit these sites:

http://fox4kc.com/2014/04/23/privacy-concerns-abound-for-new-national-medical-database/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/scientists-embark-on-unprecedented-effort-to-connect-millions-of-patient-medical-records/2014/04/15/ea7c966a-b12e-11e3-9627-c65021d6d572_story.html

http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/srsummary.html


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