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.
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.
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, telehealth, secure messaging, clinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.