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Group advocates electronic medical records

HealthDataRights.org wants patients to have better access to their own information.

June 23, 2009|W.J. Hennigan

Accessing your own medical records should be as easy as checking your online bank account, a new health-data group contends, and Monday it launched a website to promote better access.

The site, HealthDataRights.org, was established by a group that is boosting greater personal use of electronic medical records. Only 15% of physicians track the records electronically, said James Heywood, a group founder.

"We want to move toward a world in which patients have complete access to their medical information," he said. "Patients have the right to help themselves."

Heywood is chairman and co-founder of Patients Like Me, a social networking health site. He said a major roadblock in many states are laws that make it cumbersome for doctors to turn over information to patients.

Almost $60 billion in the 2009 federal economic stimulus package has been designated for healthcare, including a sizable chunk to help the electronic transition.

The transition is the linchpin for the website's cause. In digital form, the information is easier to store, update and exchange. The next step is getting patients access, Heywood said.

Some privacy advocates are wary of how electronic medical records will be used. Lee Tien, a senior attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, agrees that patients should have more access to their records, but not at the expense of security.

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william.hennigan@latimes.com

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