Healthcare IT

An EMR that protects your privacy?

Electronic medical records (EMR) hold the promise of vastly improving the quality of medical care received in the U.S. today. One of the major issues with EMR is privacy however. Patients generally want their doctors to know as much about their health as possible in order to make the best possible medical diagnoses and treatment decisions.

Yet who should you trust with your EMR? Physician groups are generally too small to efficiently implement EMR. Further, if you switch doctors, most patients want their EMR to follow them. What if the health insurers are put in charge of the EMR? This may make the most sense, but some health insurers can use the EMR to learn more about the health of their enrollees. While this seems like a good thing, when a certain enrollee gets sicker, they may decide either to increase their premiums or to try to drop their coverage. A clear conflict of interest exists here.

What about a third party EMR vendor? Google and Microsoft both are offering EMR services. But do you really want one of these enormous corporations selling your most personal medical information to other companies?

One solution to this problem is Created by Dr. Julio Bonis, Keyose is a completely anonymous EMR service. Here’s how it works:

  1. Users sign up and enter their personal health information.
  2. A username code is generated along with a public and private password. The public password is printed on an ID card that doctors can use to access medical information. The private password enables users to update their medical information. Further, Keyose allows patients to use their private password to enter confidential medical information that people with the public password (e.g.: physicians) will not be able to view. This allows patients to manage their own health care information.
  3. You do not enter personal data (e.g.: not your name or an e-mail) when you sign up in Keyose. Thus, you will not receive any marketing materials. Even if a hacker breaks into the system, they will not be able to match your medical information to your name or email.
  4. Finally, it is free to sign up.

As you know, there is nothing in life that is free. How does Keyose plan to fund this project? According to their “Help” section:

In the future we could include information about sponsors (including private health insurance companies, pharmaceutical or biomedical industries) mainly intended for doctors who access the personal health records. We could also charge for premium services (for instance translating the personal health record for international patients or providing contextual information about a patient’s diseases).

There are drawbacks to this patient-based EMR. Patients do not use the same jargon as physicians and, thus, much important information could be lost in translation between the physician and the patient. Also, the information is uploaded by the patient, and not physicians, nurses, or trained staff.

I tried out Keyose myself. It was pretty basic and could have used more pre-defined fields (currently there is only DOB, gender, blood type, allergies, and personal and family history). Specific fields detailing whether or not you have certain allergies, or whether you have received certain vaccines would be helpful. Also, I could view the confidential information section even when I logged in using the public password.

Nevertheless, Keyose does seem like an step in the right direction.