I read an article today that discussed the impact on 26 hospitals and hundreds of other clinical facilities across the U.S. and United Kingdom that were hit by a cyberattack, shutting down computers and phone systems. This news really alarmed me. The article focused on the impact to the employees, but what flashed through my mind was the impact to the patients. Historically, patients have trusted that clinics will have their medical records when they need them. When patients walk into a clinic, they expect that all information is stored in the clinician’s electronic medical record and they need only to supply the information for their current visit.
This article shows the error in that assumption. Hackers don’t really care if you were in a car wreck and access to your medical records is vital to your care. Doctors don’t normally consider that patients may also have a copy of their records that could be shared with them in times like this. But, technology and laws are changing. The ONC (the US government entity in charge of health technology standards) has mandated that all US clinics provide a way for patients to import their records into any application that uses the new technology standard called FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperable Resources). This mandate is opening up new innovations to provide patients with their own “mini electronic medical record”.
There is an old saying, “Hope for the best but plan for the worst.” There are many reasons your records might not be easily available to you or your clinicians: a computer hack, a natural disaster, or a change in your doctor’s electronic medical records system.
I want to use this opportunity to tell you that we have a free application (MyLinks) that provides you a way to download your data from over 32,000 clinics (with that number growing weekly). As clinics are installing the FHIR interface required by the ONC, they are being added to MyLinks. The data is fully encrypted and stored on secure servers managed by the industry- leading cloud security platform. You are in full control of who sees your records. MyLinks has won numerous awards and we continue to add more features to help you manage your care.
It is really important that you have your own electronic medical record available when you need it. This will help you “prepare for the worst”. We built MyLinks to be cloud based and available on any web-enabled device because we believe EVERY person should have access to and control over their own records. Create an account at MyLinks.com and have one less thing to be concerned about when you schedule an appointment.
Debi Willis is a strong believer in patient empowerment, a speaker at technology and government conferences focused on patients’ rights to their data, and co-chair of the HL7 Patient Empowerment Workgroup and CEO / Founder of PatientLink Enterprises in Oklahoma City, OK.