Americans could soon access their medical history just as fast as they order takeout. But new rules regarding electronic medical data have sparked debate over whether easier access would hurt or help consumers.
The current fight comes from new information-sharing policies from the federal government, which would allow health care providers to send medical information to third-party apps once a patient gives their consent.
Intent of the new rules
The new guidelines would ease current federal privacy protections regarding personal medical records. Federal regulators hope that putting medical data online could give doctors more accurate information on a patient’s condition, helping them make better choices with more promising outcomes.
Prominent medical groups worry about data abuse
Organizations such as the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association are pushing back against the new rules. They said allowing consumers to send private medical records electronically could expose them to data abuse. Without restrictions in place, they said companies could take advantage of a patient’s medical details including their prescription history, mental health conditions, injury records and more. The groups also worry that exposure of this information could result in higher insurance costs or even job discrimination for some consumers.
Others say it gives consumers freedom
Supporters say it would provide consumers with more freedom to manage their health care needs, citing the new rules as a “milestone” for patients’ rights advocates. Dr. Don Rucker, a national coordinator for the federal health department, said giving patients quicker access to their medical records could increase consumer convenience. He said it could help them pick a doctor, choose an insurance plan or pay medical bills on the go. Rucker also said it could allow tech companies like Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft to contribute to the health care market by creating apps that benefit consumers.
Decision expected near end of this year
The new policies are expected to be finalized by the end of this year. Both health care providers and record vendors will have two years to comply with the updated requirements. If you’re a health care business with concerns regarding the new policy changes, an experienced attorney can help make sure you’re complying with federal guidelines.