Assistant Professor of Law, Saint Louis University Ana Santos Rutschman does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under Creative Commons license.

The sprawling U.S. health care industry has trouble managing patient information: Every doctor, medical office, hospital, pharmacy, therapist and insurance company needs different pieces of data to properly care for patients. These records are scattered all over on each business’s computers – and some no doubt in filing cabinets too.

They’re not all kept up to date with current information, as a person’s prescriptions change or new X-rays are taken, and they’re not easily shared from one provider to another. For instance, in Boston alone, medical offices use more than two dozen different systems for keeping electronic health records.

None of them can directly communicate with any of the others, and all of them present opportunities for hackers to steal, delete or modify records either individually or en masse. In an emergency, doctors may not be able to get crucial medical information because it’s stored somewhere else.

That can result in direct harm to patients. There might be a way out, toward a health care system where patients have accurate and updated records that are secure against tampering or snooping, and with data that can be shared quickly and easily with any provider who needs it. Read more from theconversation.com…

thumbnail courtesy of theconversation.com