Internet Health Records: Convenience at a Cost?

Joanne Silberner writes on NPR:

“There are Web sites that allow you to keep information about your medical treatment online, where you and your doctor can access it easily. An article in the New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday asks if electronic medical records are the next big thing in health care. The answer? When it comes to keeping these records yourself, it depends.

Debbie Witchey is like many Americans: She wants to have all her medical records accessible online. Dozens of Internet sites offer the service, some free, some not.
Witchey knows about personal health records. She’s senior vice president of government affairs for the Healthcare Leadership Council, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group for the health care industry. It’s pushing something different: electronic health records, which doctors and hospitals keep on computers so they’re quickly available to any doctor at any hospital. The council doesn’t have a position on personal health records, which individuals maintain.

A Personal Experiment

But Witchey, 44, was curious about the benefits of personal health records. She checked out promotional materials from one of the biggest sites, Revolution Health. “I was just about to switch doctors, and one of the things they talked about was how great it was to be able to keep all your records in one place,” Witchey says. “I was having to go through the process of getting all my records and moving them around, and I thought, ‘Well, this would be a good opportunity to give it a try.’ So I signed up.”

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