Health Care Privacy in a Facebook World

Start a conversation about electronic medical records and the topic of privacy is sure to come up…if you’re talking to someone over 30.

I’m not sure it’s a good thing, but I get the feeling that individuals who were fortunate enough to have been in college when Facebook went viral care little about privacy. Yes, it’s possible to only share your profile with friends, but if you have over 1,000 friends, I’m not sure there’s much difference between your network and the world.

The point here is that our concerns with privacy have led, in part, to inaction on the implementation of an electronic health record. And the larger point is this: enough already.

Jen McCabe Gorman has a wonderful post at Health Management Rx on exactly this topic (so, it’s safe to say my post was inspired by her post). Here is an (relatively giant) excerpt, but go read the rest:

We need to stop pretending healthcare is the industry in which our vulnerability opens us up to the most potential for avaricious theft and misuse of data.

This is a naive, overly simplistic excuse used to dismiss the end value of using personal health records and giving consumers shared control over the co-creation of a personal health narrative.

Get over it. We already co-create our personal health narrative – what do you think a history and physical interview consists of? The doc asking questions, the patient giving largely subjective answers, and then that information being ‘objectified’ and codified into that provider’s medical record.

What slays me is that we do this over and over and over.

Talk about inefficiencies and misaligned incentives rampant in our healthcare system…we have to recreate meaningful interactions and establish a solidified platform of shared data at the beginning of EACH and every visit with a healthcare provider.

And it’s not new information, building on backstory to establish timely relevance, it’s the same old H&P data that’s stored 500 other places in disjointed medical records.

If my doc could access my personal health narrative and then ask questions directly relevant to my history (“Still having trouble falling asleep?”) we might actually get somewhere in the 2.45 minutes she has to sit and talk with me before tearing off a prescription sheet.

This is an old, tired argument.

Warnings of privacy issues with medical records. Calls for more security measures with online records. Concerns with health information falling into the wrong hands.

We get it. But it’s never going to be perfect. That’s the price we pay for instant accessibility. So just deliver us a product that we can use, want to use, something we can’t (literally) live without.

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