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POSTS BY TAG | Healthcare Data



In part one of this series, we talked about the health care technology landscape that has contributed to a state where rarely does one system hold a patient’s entire, or current, health record. Rather, in many cases, pieces of information are scattered across a variety of different systems operated by the various providers involved in a patient’s care. Fortunately, health care providers are required by law to give patients access to their health data. We previously walked through the process one might follow to obtain copies of their health records, now it’s time to determine how and where to store that information.



Storing Health Records in Secure App, the Best Way to Manage the Data


Why go through the trouble of compiling all of your health care records? The short answer is so that you can have them easily accessible when you need them most. In today’s world, the vast majority of people own a smartphone, which they take with them wherever they go. Because of that, we’d argue that organizing and storing your health records in a secure app, on your phone, is by far the best way to manage your health care data.  As of Q4 of 2020, there were 51,476 iOS apps listed under the “medical” category in the Apple App Store, and 49,890 Android apps in the Google Play Store.



What to Look for When Choosing an App to Store Your Medical Records


So what should you look for when choosing an app with which to entrust your sensitive information?  First and foremost - it should be HIPAA-compliant. But what does that mean from a technical perspective?  Look for references to encryption, emergency access, secure backup, and biometric, or “two-factor” authentication. It’s important that if you leave your smartphone sitting out, someone can’t just pick it up and look at your lab results, or a recent communication with your doctor without first scanning their face, or finger, or entering a password.


Similarly, if you were to lose the phone, you’d want to make sure anyone trying to pull data off of it would be prevented from accessing the health care app’s database due to the use of strong encryption. On the other hand, when you got a replacement phone, you wouldn’t want to rebuild your centralized health record database from scratch. Look for an app that makes reference to securely backing up your data and try to understand upfront what the process of recovering your information involves.


Finally, and arguably the most important item to consider is data transmission and control. A driving factor behind curating your own health records is the ability to grant access to relevant parts of it to providers involved in your health care. Consider choosing an app that has convenient tools for sending and receiving health information between you and your doctor easily and securely. The app should let you choose the means by which you transmit your data and should provide an avenue that’s encrypted end-to-end.


And finally, do some homework on who built the app. Pick a company that is oriented around improving patient health outcomes by providing better continuity in health care data, not one that’s out to make a quick buck by monetizing your health records. At pMD, we care deeply about empowering both patients and providers to have a higher quality, delightful health care experience.




 

To find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our charge capture and MIPS registry, billing services, telehealthsecure messagingclinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.

Related Articles:

Grab Your Healthcare By the Data Part 1:Collecting Your Records
* What Makes pMD Video Chat HIPAA-Compliant?


Most of us see a variety of health care providers for everything from routine primary care, to specialty treatment for chronic conditions, to lab tests and x-rays, to procedures for injuries. In the United States, it’s likely that each individual practice and facility will have their own system(s) for storing the health records associated with the portion of your care that they rendered. However, those databases often don’t communicate or share information with the other providers’ systems. U.S. law requires that each health care provider store your electronic health records securely, but it does not mandate that it all be centralized in any one place.

As a result, as we move through the healthcare system we often leave a trail of comprehensive, but very siloed information behind us.

Why Store Your Healthcare Records in a Centralized Repository?


recent study estimated that a single hospital, on average, has 16 different electronic medical record vendors actively in use across all of its affiliated practices. This makes putting together a complete picture of one’s health history, or even current status, potentially a very daunting challenge. Your lab results, imaging tests, vaccination records, current medications, notes from that recent cardiologist visit, and even data from your fitness tracker device might all live in separate places.

Not only is this inconvenient and inefficient, but it can also be potentially dangerous.  Imagine being treated at an emergency room and not remembering, or not being capable of communicating your blood type or known drug allergies. What if your gastroenterologist unknowingly prescribes a medication that has an adverse interaction with your blood pressure drug? Because these disparate providers don’t necessarily share or have access to all of your health records, the burden is on the patient to build and maintain a centralized repository of their data and self-report this information to all of their various providers.

Collecting Your Healthcare Data is Your Right by Law


The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) gives individuals the right to request copies of their medical records from each of their providers. Health care entities are required to provide this information within a reasonable timeframe and for no or low cost. Unfortunately, most state laws don’t stipulate that patients actually own their data, and the process for requesting and obtaining it can be cumbersome - sometimes requiring a written request. But, the federal law is at least clear about the patient’s right to access the data.  

Furthermore, HIPAA mandates that individuals can request their health information be delivered to them in digital format, which is helpful when approaching building a centralized, patient-controlled repository of one’s healthcare records.

After Collecting Your Records, How & Where Do You Store Them?


Once you’ve got the data in hand, the question becomes how, and where to store it in a way that’s both secure, yet easily accessible for you and any family member or health care provider with whom you choose to share it.

In part two of this series, we’ll look at why it makes sense to carry your health information with you on your smartphone and discuss what to look for in an app to help make it easy and safe.

To find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our charge capture and MIPS registry, billing services, telehealthsecure messagingclinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.

Related Articles:

Grab Your Healthcare By the Data Part 2: Choosing the Right App
* What Makes pMD Video Chat HIPAA-Compliant?
* The Goal of Interoperability in Health Care: Uniting People & Systems