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Electronic Medical Information: What You Should Know

E-Health is short for electronic health. The term E-Health refers to the use of computers and networks like the Internet to store and manage your medical records, instead of paper files. With E-Health, important information about your health is available when and where it’s needed. E-Health is also sometimes called health information technology.

At AARP we want to help you be an active partner with your doctor and other health care team members so that you get the best possible care, can manage your chronic condition, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. One way to achieve these goals is to make sure that you and your clinical caregivers have all the necessary information about you to make the right decisions about your care.

If you’ve ever changed your doctor, seen a medical specialist, visited a clinic, or checked into a hospital, chances are that you have a separate medical record in each of these places. These records include information about illnesses or injuries you’ve had, medicines you’re taking, and the results of any medical tests you’ve had. Today, your medical records are likely stored in paper files, which are very difficult to look at all together as your complete medical history.
How e-Health can help you:

•    You get better and safer care when your doctors have a more complete picture of your health.

•    You can skip unnecessary duplicate tests which are wasteful and often risky.

•    Information that could save your life is available for those who treat you in an emergency.

•    You don’t have to answer the same questions about your health every time you visit a doctor, a clinic, or check into a hospital.

•    Your information is safe and secure in a system that can only be used by the people who are caring for you, and only with your consent.

•    You can better access and manage your own health records and those of your family.

Have you ever wondered how the pharmacist makes sense of a hand-written prescription from your physician? If so, you’re not alone! One of the many benefits of storing your medical records electronically is that your files will be easier to read. No longer will anyone have to make sense of hand written notes, so errors can be avoided. As technology continues to play an increasingly important role in health care, the national movement towards electronic health record systems is leading to many improvements in the quality of patient care. Yet, as with paper record systems, there are some risks.

The University of Kansas Medical Center – Center for Health Informatics has been involved in a national project that aims to educate the public in Kansas about e-health and related privacy and security matters.  Through the project materials have been developed to help people better understand these issues.  For more information visit: ehealth.kansashealthonline.org or the Kansas Health IT Resource Toolkit webpage.

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