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Health Information Technology: Will My Records Be Safe?

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— Amana Images/Getty Images

AARP Illinois has joined with the Health Information Security and Privacy Collaboration  (HISPC) in an effort to provide consumers with educational materials about how patient privacy and security will be protected as medical records move from paper to the computer. The HISPC is a federal initiative to study privacy and security for the implementation of health information technology in the states.

What is E-Health?

The term E-Health is short for electronic health. It 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.

What is an electronic health record?

Electronic health records (EHR) are computerized versions of patients' clinical, demographic, and administrative data.  The records may include treatment histories, medical test reports, and images stored in an electronic format. Just like paper records, electronic records must comply with the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

What types of information might be stored in an electronic health record?

Anything that can be stored on paper medical records can be stored on EHR, but electronic records can be more comprehensive and flexible. 

What are the advantages of electronic health records?

Storing health records electronically allows for quicker retrieval of more complete patient information by physicians and other service providers.  Electronic health records also making searching, tracking and analyzing information easier. Unlike paper records, they don't take up costly space and they don't require labor-intensive methods to maintain, retrieve, and file. Electronic health records also provide easier access at times of emergency and can be backed up easily to avoid loss during times of disaster.

How can E-Health help me?

  • 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 or 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.

To find out more information about the Health Information Security and Privacy Collaboration, visit and click on "HISPC."

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