An investigation carried out by the Consumer Reports magazine has suggested that the national system of Electronic Health Records being developed by the federal government and healthcare operators to link the medical records of every American has potential for abuse.
The Consumer Reports article found that while such a system could save lives and billions of dollars in health-care spending, it may also jeopardize the security of personal health care information.
The article raises a number of concerns about the system, principally that without proper safeguards marketers could use electronic medical records to sell patients new drugs to treat their illnesses; fund-raisers could target those newly diagnosed of a disease and encourage them to contribute to their cause.
Lenders and employers could also use such information to disqualify people with health problems from obtaining loans and jobs. It also says that the likelihood of errors in records increases when lots of people have the ability to enter data.
In response, the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel, the agency in charge of setting standards for exchange of information over the new electronic medical records network, insists that security will be tight and that patients have no cause for concern.