Getting Your Records
Gathering your health information in the past could be a laborious affair. It’s not just a matter of going to your doctor or the hospital. Certain records might also exist only with your pharmacy or health insurance provider past.
As of January 1, a federal mandate went into effect that health care records must be available electronically. Problem solved, right? Sort of.
Databases aren’t necessarily shared, so your medical information may still be all over the place. It’s just bits now instead of pieces of paper.
The government has tried to combat this problem by creating the Blue Button portal. If your providers participate, Blue Button allows you to get to all your data in one place. This is a far from perfect solution because it’s just a gateway to the individual portals of your health care suppliers – but it’s something.
If your provider isn’t within the Blue Button portal, you need to find your information by registering with the various sites individually. In my personal experience, my doctor’s office had me fill out a card to sign up, and it was super smooth.
Protecting and Transferring Your Records
So now that you have your records, what can you do with them, and how can you keep them protected?
When you download your records, you should download the encrypted copy if your provider offers one. This will allow you to password protect the documents so that only people you give explicit authorization to can have access. You could keep the password in a safe place along with the flash drive containing your records.
Our phones, smart bands and watches have so many sensors that can track everything from steps to heart rate. Is this data safe on our phones?
Before you start using your devices to track your health, keep in mind that it’s good practice to monitor which applications want your health data or parts of it. You can decide for yourself whether the benefits are worth sharing the information.
On iPhone, if you have a 4S or later updated to iOS 8, your health data is safe on your phone. Any data shared with the Health app dashboard is encrypted when your device is locked, and it doesn’t leave the device. The other neat thing about the Health app is you can fill out an emergency card that you have the option of bringing up when you hit the emergency button on the lock screen.
Android is a little trickier due to fragmentation. Fit, Google’s answer to Apple’s health offerings, is a similar dashboard that puts all your data together. The company has turned on encryption by default in the newly released Android Lollipop. However, if you have an older phone, you may not get the update.
Do you make use of your digital medical information? How do you go about protecting it? Share in the comments section.
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