Getting Electronic Health Records

12:03 PM, Nov 9, 2011   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- Former President George W. Bush and President Obama both think every American should have an electronic health record. Pam Crum agrees she was diagnosised with inflammatory breast cancer a very rare but virulent form of breast cancer.

Three weeks after learning that shocking news, Pam Crum started chemotherapy. She was also 22-weeks pregnant making matters even more complicated. Pam eventually delivered a healthy daughter, Grace at 36-weeks.

But the new mom had to quickly get back to the tough job of surviving cancer. The day after Grace was born she was back at Georgetown Lombardi to begin a different round of chemo.

"I had surgeries, I had radiation, I had subsequent surgeries after that," Pam tells us.

Her insurance company required all of her mammograms be done in Virginia not at Georgetown. So she had to spend a lot of time driving 35-miles back and forth from Virginia to DC taking her films and medications to all of her appointments.

Pam says it was very hectic and had become her new norm until about 2-years ago. Then Georgetown Lombardi made the transition to electronic record keeping. That meant all of Pam's medical paper trail was now in the computer, just a mouse click away.

Pam gets a break and her doctors like medical oncologist Dr. Mineta Liu believe it helps them provide even better medical care.

"If I need something or have a question about a study she had or a blood test, I have ready access to it, "Dr. Liu says.

But Pam Dixon, with the World Privacy Forum, says consumers run into privacy risks when their records are not operated by a healthcare provider and covered under HIPPA.

"Electronic medical record keeping is a terrific benefit for consumers provided they are covered by national privacy laws." Pam adds, "For example when a commercial company may have an electronic health care record that they offer to you it may be free, but it can also be ad supported."

It is more likely that personal private records could be disclosed to the general public or marketers.

That's not a concern for Pam Crum. Electronic record keeping at Georgetown has given her peace of mind.

"It helped me to relax and focus on wellness as opposed to treatment and medical records," she says.

Another piece of advice from privacy expert Pam Dixon gets a copy of your health care records, in whatever form, and keep them on file. If there's ever an identity theft problem, it's hard to get your records after the fact. Also, after you access your electronic health care records, make sure you clean out or empty your browser, then reset it.

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