Getting Organized With Online Medical Records

Joan Lunden talks about putting records online and getting organized.

Oct. 21, 2008 — -- Several companies are offering programs that allow users to get more organized and store their medical information online. Everything from prescriptions to diagnoses can be housed and some believe online medical records are the way of the future.

Former "Good Morning America" anchor Joan Lunden, who is now a paid spokeswoman for PassportMD, dropped by the Times Square Studios to discuss the new world of online medical records.

Here is what she said:

How Online Medical Records Work

Doing it yourself is daunting, and I think it's why many Americans haven't put their personal health records online. PassportMD has a service that basically assigns a concierge to you who will take care of that. All you have to do is provide the names of your doctors and the cities and they do it all. These are your records and this lets you take ownership.

It helps you stay organized in a remarkable way. I'm a mother of seven children and I take care of my elderly mother on the West Coast. It's hard to keep everything straight. I've always balanced my work life with my family life by staying organized, but I didn't realize until last year how unorganized my health records where. I'd have a giant X-ray behind the couch, or a blood test result stuck in a drawer. Putting it online gives you complete, easy access to all of those things, in one place.

Now, the second big piece of this is that all your doctors can have access to your records. Both you and they can see the last time your child had a tetanus shot. It's 24/7 access, and it allows you to take control of your records and your health. You and your doctor can check to make sure you're not taking medications that could interact in a dangerous way.

Privacy Concerns

Right now, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPAA) laws don't apply to the Internet, and I'm sure that will eventually change. But until that happens, some of the sites are not HIPPAA compliant, so you need to read the fine print.

I chose to become aligned with PassportMD because it is compliant with the rules. It's important people choose a system that is. I don't want anyone to have access to my medical records that I haven't given access to myself. You also need to make sure your medical records have the same kind of security as your bank records. That means e-mail encryption and other safety features.

Also, at PassportMD only you, the family members you choose and up to six doctors you designate have access to your files. No one else has access. PassportMD doesn't sell your information in any way.

Switching Companies

It depends on the company, but at some places you can take your records with you if you decide to leave. PassportMD provides the information in two ways, online on the site, as a profile -- or as a USB. You can download all your medical information and put it into a USB, and have your information portable.

Also, if there was a problem at PassportMD, it would close down your files and destroy them. You'd keep your profile, but there would be no records of the information beyond that.

PassportMD is one of many companies that provide these services. Others include Google, Microsoft's HealthVault and Dossia, which provides personal health records for Walmart and other big companies.