I’ve always been a fan of the concept of electronic patient records. All the data available in one place to me and to any of my healthcare team. We can all work from the same info, it doesn’t get lost in the post and there isn’t a massive upheaval if you happen to move house.
At times I feel like this is the minority view. I spend a lot of time listening to propaganda in the media and from many clinicians about how insecure it is to have my medical records online, how anyone could hack into the system and read about my in growing toenail. Now, I accept there are limitations with any method of storing data, but the backlash against electronic patient records assumes that the current system is secure.
A recent incident got me thinking. I don’t believe my paper health records are particularly secure. I’ve got three examples where I know they weren’t:
• Whenever I went to clinic as a child my dad’s cousin who worked at the hospital invariably knew my blood test results before we did. She didn’t even work in the diabetes clinic and had no reason to be accessing my records but could see them nonetheless.
• When we moved house a couple of years ago my notes went missing for 6 months. They reappeared after a pensioner discovered them tucked into the back of her notes. No doubt she had a good read before returning them, I know I would have!
• And the straw that broke the camel’s back – my PCT have just accidentally sent detailed information about my medical condition to a random MP. Not my MP who I had copied in on correspondence because I needed to get things moving, a completely different MP who they accidentally wrote to.
All my bank information is stored online and to my knowledge it has never been sent to my MP by accident, interrogated by family who happen to work at the bank or lost to a random old lady for 6 months.
As a student I worked in a bank. If they wanted to the bank could check which accounts I’d accessed on the computer system. If I’d been into accounts I shouldn’t have for no good reason eg nosying at how much my neighbours earn etc they could spot it and take action.
There is no failsafe method of storing data, but I believe the benefits of having my health info available to me at any time via the internet really outweigh the perceived security risks. How do I convince the cynics of that too?