- The concept of patient-controlled health records is gaining traction as healthcare becomes more patient-centric and technology advances.
- Patient-controlled health records can empower patients, enhance privacy and security, improve coordination of care, and foster patient-centered research collaborations.
- Challenges to implementing patient-controlled health records include technical challenges, ensuring digital literacy among patients, and adapting healthcare providers’ practices and workflows.
In recent years, there has been a growing conversation about the importance of giving patients control over their health records. Traditionally, medical records have been stored and accessed solely by healthcare providers, creating a centralized system that limits patients’ access to their own health information.
However, with advancements in technology and a push for patient-centered care, the concept of patient-controlled health records has gained traction.
While there are differences in healthcare systems globally, all suffer from two major challenges in regard to medical records: data breaches and timely patient access. Australia and the U.S. have been rocked by numerous recent healthcare data breaches that raise serious concerns about online health data security.
The vulnerability of sensitive health data brings to light the ownership of these digital medical records, which have historically been considered the property of clinicians or health institutions. While ownership of healthcare data is a thorny subject, the nonexistence of patient-owned or controlled healthcare records makes gaining access to their own medical data a headache, leading to major obstacles in scheduling appointments with other clinics or facilities in a timely manner.
The conversation around healthcare records
The conversation surrounding giving patients control over their health records is gaining momentum, as healthcare becomes more patient-centric as technology advances. One of the primary arguments in favor of giving patients control over their health records is empowerment.
By allowing individuals to access and manage their own health information, they can actively participate in their healthcare decisions. Patients gain the ability to review their medical history, understand their diagnoses, and make informed choices about treatments. This level of empowerment can enhance patient engagement, improve health outcomes, and strengthen the doctor-patient relationship.
Privacy and security concerns are also integral to the discussion around patient-controlled health records. Critics argue that giving patients control over their records could lead to potential breaches, unauthorized access, or misuse of sensitive information. However, proponents argue that with robust encryption, secure authentication protocols, and strict data protection measures, patient-controlled systems can enhance privacy.
Patients can monitor and control who has access to their health information, thereby reducing the risk of unauthorized disclosure.
Interoperability, the seamless exchange of health information across different systems, is another major challenge within the healthcare industry. Patient-controlled health records have the potential to address this issue by providing a standardized platform, where patients can aggregate their health data from various healthcare providers.
This consolidation of data can facilitate better coordination of care, reduce duplicative tests and procedures, and enhance the overall efficiency of healthcare delivery.
Patient-controlled health records also offer significant opportunities for research and innovation. With patients having control over their health data, they can choose to share it with researchers, contributing to the advancement of medical knowledge. This shift from provider-centric to patient-centric data ownership could enable large-scale studies, accelerate the development of new treatments, and foster patient-centered research collaborations.
Implementing patient-controlled health records raises legal and ethical questions. For instance, who owns the data, and how can patients ensure their rights are protected? It is essential to establish clear guidelines and regulations to address data ownership, consent, and data sharing frameworks. Ethical considerations include ensuring equitable access to healthcare services and avoiding discrimination based on health data, while also safeguarding patients’ autonomy and privacy rights.
While the concept of patient-controlled health records holds great promise, several challenges must be overcome for widespread adoption. Technical challenges, such as data standardization, system integration, and interoperability, need to be addressed.
Moreover, ensuring digital literacy among patients, addressing the digital divide, and protecting vulnerable populations from exclusion is crucial. Additionally, healthcare providers need to adapt their practices and workflows to accommodate patient-controlled systems.
The answer: ShelterZoom
ShelterZoom, a blockchain-based, smart document SaaS provider, looks to solve both the cybersecurity and medical-data access problems plaguing healthcare systems, through its Document GPS solution. Document GPS leverages blockchain technology, by securely tokenizing content to protect ownership of original work, empowering hospitals, clinics, healthcare providers, and organizations of any type to track, control, and revoke access to sensitive material, such as health records.
Nowadays, most medical records exist in a digital environment, and with the growing threat of cyberattacks, ShelterZoom’s Document GPS solution provides healthcare organizations with an extra layer of defense against common cyber threats, such as ransomware and business-email compromise (BEC) attacks.
By integrating Document GPS into their existing systems, hospitals, clinics, family practices, and major healthcare networks gain a solution that streamlines the transfer of medical records between providers at a reduced cost.
With Document GPS, healthcare organizations can now track and revoke access to medical data, leading to enhanced privacy over patient data and reduced risk liability for care providers, ensuring uninterrupted operations in the event a breach occurs.
Then there’s the patient access issue, which ShelterZoom also tackles. By enabling healthcare providers to use Document GPS, patients will finally be able to access and control their personal medical records 24/7. This is a massive feat, considering the current lack of patient access makes sharing sensitive medical records between hospitals and other healthcare entities a complicated process, defined by bureaucratic hold ups and patient frustrations.
As a result, patients experience unnecessary delays in booking appointments, which directly impacts the quality of care.
Last year, ShelterZoom partnered with Policlinico Modelo de Cipolletti, a leading private hospital in Argentina, to integrate DocumentGPS. This partnership represented the first time patients were given control of their own medical records.
Together, ShelterZoom and Policlinico Modelo have been shielding patients’ medical data from cyberattacks while bypassing bureaucratic hurdles and delivering their own medical records directly to a specialist or clinic. Salvador Scafidi,
Owner of Policlinico Modelo de Cipolletti, said that the partnership with ShelterZoom provides them with “the ideal digital tool because it allows our patients to own and control their complete medical history.”
Supporting Document GPS’s inroads in the healthcare field, an assessment from Abacode Cybersecurity & Compliance recently confirmed ShelterZoom’s compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the U.S. federal legal standard to protect sensitive patient health information. HIPAA compliance makes it easier for healthcare providers and professionals to integrate Document GPS and other solutions into their existing systems and enable patients to enjoy easy access and control over their medical records.
Empowering patients with control over their health information can lead to better engagement, improved health outcomes, and more patient-centered care. With ShelterZoom addressing these challenges and actively involving stakeholders in the decision-making process, patient-controlled health records have the potential to revolutionize healthcare delivery and empower individuals to take charge of their own well-being.