Consumer Debate: Are your medical records secure?

KUSA - We know hackers can steal your credit and debit card information.

Now as your medical records are converted from paper to electronic versions - do you need to worry about the security of your most intimate, personal information?

Healthcare costs America about $ 2.8 trillion dollars a year.
While the Affordable Care Act may divide the country, most agree that IT (information technology) can lower costs in the long run by making things more efficient.

Healthcare is behind other industries when it comes to digital information. Retail and banking are way ahead on the digitization curve. But when all your information is floating around electronically - it's vulnerable to outsiders. Medical records are deeply personal. Some would rather disclose their salary than a private health condition.

"Really this first phase that we're in is just - get your information digital," said Tim Coan, CEO of ALN Medical Management. "Then we can begin to share it. We can begin to pool it. We can begin to do things that we couldn't do otherwise."

But just what kinds of things can be done is of concern to some.

Some would argue that aggregating medical information makes things more convenient. Have you ever tried to get your medical history from your doctor? Have you ever tried to explain a medical condition to a doctor when you need a second opinion? Electronic medical records will make those tasks much easier.

An electronic summary will be available with the push of a button. It's sort of like the way you can see your credit card purchases when you go online.

Healthcare isn't there yet, but it's moving that direction.

Your old paper chart will turn into an electronic version, if it hasn't already. Your private medical history, once locked in the confines of one room, will now be out in cyberspace.

That means your primary care physician can easily share information with specialists and vice versa.

"It'll begin to flow," Coan said. "Things that you do with this physician and this physician will end up together. That will help."

But some don't want that information shared with anyone else. If you tell your doctor something very personal – it will now be in a form someone else might get to. That could cause some patients to withhold information from their doctor.

That's how the world operates now. Most of us are used to having a digital life. And doctor's offices and hospitals say security will be in place. But remember - Target and Neiman Marcus had security in place to protect our credit card information. We thought it was safe - until we found out it wasn't safe.

Even if your information is secure from outsiders - will you approve of some of the ways your own doctor might use it? Tomorrow on 9NEWS at 4, we'll tell you about some of the possibilities.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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