Despite advocates' insistence on the significant advantages of digitized medical records and additional technology upgrades for the healthcare sector, a number of hurdles remain for widespread adoption, according to a Department of Health and Human Services official speaking at a public briefing last week.
HHS' David Blumenthal, national coordinator for Health Information Technology, told attendees that "American people [need] to be convinced that the information exchanged will be private," adding that limited funding and implementation problems were also slowing the adoption rate for such technologies.
However, the public's concern about the security of patient information is not misplaced. Reports of privacy breaches are common despite the low-fi nature of most hospitals' patient records. Just last week, employees at a hospital in Dayton, Ohio, were accused of inappropriately accessing the files of a patient seriously injured in a car crash, according to local CBS affiliate WKRC.
That said, however, many experts believe that there are serious improvements to healthcare quality which could be realized from systematic digitization, including making it easier to compare health insurance rates and avoid diagnostic problems.