How To Secure Your Personal Health Data

Protection of health information of an individual is the fundamental principle of all health system. In an online environment it is difficult to control the flow of information. Any breach in the security system will result in loss of vital personal health information and personal demographic profile. This may also precipitate identity theft. Therefore, it is of importance to note that the health information should be stored in an encrypted storage drive to prevent unauthorized access to the data. Since; patients will control the data with them always; it is possible to provide safety net with portable personal health record unlike the web-based method of storage.

The web based health record storage system, enables the user to access the health information anywhere, anytime but there is a risk of safety of the data according to patient privacy rights organization. This prevents the widespread use of Web based health records. The server wherein the information resides should have an uptime of nearly 99.99% since this contains critical health information and also be in a secure area with uninterrupted power supply. The bandwidth for the flow of information has to be by using at least OC 768 connection (39,813.12 Mbit/s (payload: 38,486.016 Mbit/s; overhead: 1327.104 Mbit/s) to maintain large volume of internet traffic and also to prevent any down times. In addition these servers should be fire walled to prevent any outside unauthorized intrusion with also use of Secure Socket Layered (SSL) protocol.

Providing Secure Health Data through:

– Authentication, being the process of ensuring that the communicating party is the one it claims to be

– Authorization, being the process of ensuring that the communicating party is eligible to request for a specific action

In addition, audit trails are needed to ensure accountability of actions of individual persons or entities, such as obtaining informed consent or breaching confidentiality.These audit trails can be used to reconstruct, review, and examine transactions; track system usage; control authorized users; and detect and identify intruders.


This article is for informational purpose only and is in no way intended to be a substitute for medical consultation with a qualified professional. The author encourages Internet users to be careful when using medical information. If you are unsure about your medical condition, consult a physician.

Personal Health Information – Keeping Tabs On Your Health In Texas

Your personal health information — do you know who has it or where to find it in Dallas, Houston or in the other Texas cities where you have lived? Do you have it? In most cases, a complete record of all of your personal health information can’t be found at any single location or in any consistent format. Each one of your healthcare providers (family practitioner, allergist, OB-GYN, etc.) compiles a separate medical record on you. And often times, these multiple medical records can lead to an incomplete story about your health.

Keeping your own personal health record (PHR) provides doctors with valuable information that can help improve the quality of care you receive. A PHR can minimize or eliminate duplicate tests. It can also help you receive faster, safer treatment and care in an emergency. In short, with a PHR, you can play a more active role in your healthcare.

Starting a Personal Health Record

Your health information is scattered across many different providers and facilities. A Personal Health Record is a collection of this information about your health or the health of someone you are caring for, such as a parent or child that you would actively maintain and update. The information comes from your healthcare providers, and most importantly, from you.

Why Start a PHR?

Your own PHR should provide a different perspective, showing all your health-related information. It can include any information that you think might affect your health, including information that your doctor may not have, such as your exercise routines, dietary habits, or glucose levels if you are diabetic.

In addition, the PHR is a critical tool that enables you to partner with your providers. It can reduce or eliminate duplicate procedures or processes, which can save healthcare dollars, as well as your time and the provider’s time.

What Should be in Your PHR?

When collecting information from your health records, make sure you include:

* Personal identification, including names, birth dates, and social security numbers

* Emergency contacts

* Names, addresses, and phone numbers of your physician, dentist, and other specialists

* Health insurance information

* Living wills and advance directives

* Organ donor authorization

* A list and dates of significant illnesses and surgeries

* Current medications and dosages

* Immunizations and their dates

* Allergies

* Important events, dates, and hereditary conditions in your family history

* A recent physical examination

* Opinions of specialists

* Important tests results

* Eye and dental records

* Correspondence between you and your provider(s)

* Correspondence between you and your health insurance company

* Permission forms for release of information, operations, and other medical procedures

* Any information you want to include about your health – such as your exercise regimen, any herbal medications you take and any counseling you may receive.

Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a PHR

Young, healthy people move, often frequently. Therefore you are likely to have health records scattered over all over Texas and beyond. Remember the flu last year in Dallas? And the routine exam three years ago in Houston? Keeping your own personal health record (PHR) provides new and existing doctors with valuable information that can help improve the quality of care you receive.

To start your personal health record, you will need to request a copy of your health records from all your healthcare providers, including your general practitioner, and your eye doctor, dentist, and any other specialists you have seen. Don’t feel that you need to gather all your health information at the same time. One way to handle your record retrieval is to ask for your recent records each time you visit a healthcare provider.

Incorporate the following steps, at your own pace, when creating your own personal health record:

1. Contact your doctors’ offices, the health information management (HIM) or the medical records staff at each facility where you have received treatment. Ask if your records are in an electronic format that you can access, or if you need to request copies. Also, ask your physician or the HIM professional to help you determine which parts of your record you need. Furthermore, find out if your provider has his or her own plan for helping patients to create their PHRs.

2. Ask for an “authorization for the release of information” form. Complete the form and return it to the facility as directed. Most facilities charge for copies. The fee should only include the cost of copying (including supplies and labor), as well as postage if you request the copy to be mailed. It can take up to 60 days to receive your medical records, so ask when you can expect to receive the information you’ve requested.

3. Now that you’ve gathered your information, there are a few different ways you can maintain your PHR. One way is to simply gather your information in a file folder. Not all information may be available to you in an electronic format, so an old-fashioned file folder or three-ring binder may be the easiest and most inclusive format. You can divide the binder into sections by family members. Then, within each family member’s section, divide information by year or illness.

4. There are many great digital PHR tools and services to help you get organized. You can burn data onto a CD. Also, portable devices, like keychain USB drives that plug into most computers, will make your PHR information extremely portable. There are also Internet-based services where you can store and retrieve your health information, including services which may be sponsored by your insurance company. Some services even help collect your data from your doctors and other healthcare providers.

Some of these digital PHR tools may be available free of charge and others are products or services you will need to purchase or pay a subscription fee to use.

5. Bring your PHR to all healthcare provider visits so that you have the information with you. And remember to keep adding and updating it with entries from providers, yourself, or your family member.

6. Because you won’t always have your PHR with you, create and carry a card that has vital information on it—such as medications or allergies—with you at all times.

7. Remember, this private information is yours and your family’s, so protect it and maintain its confidentiality. Let trusted family members know it exists, and where it’s being kept, but beyond that, keep it safe and protected.

Knowledge is power and your Personal Health Record can certainly empower you. The information gathered gives you information you can use when preparing for medical appointments. And it gives you more intimate knowledge of your healthcare, including giving you an active role in your preventive care and care management.

It’s easier to start gathering your medical records while you’re a young, healthy Texan compared to when you’re older and have a more complex medical history. Start with your parents and work your way up to your current healthcare providers.

The Hippocratic Oath Upheld PHI, Your Personal Health Information Kept Private

“I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know.” (1) This excerpt from the modern Hippocratic Oath to which every doctor swears by; it was set to ensure that each patient’s information and condition is kept private.

The communal spaces of a clinic pharmacy or hospital often don’t mirror the tenet for medical privacy. For example, standing in line waiting to ask the pharmacist a personal question can be an embarrassing and even traumatizing ordeal as complete strangers stand within earshot. For many patients, simply having to divulge personal health information (PHI) can be an uncomfortable occurrence in itself. Couple this fear with the security and privacy risks inherent to anything of a personal nature, particularly one’s own medical information. Being sick today or even going in for an annual exam or wellness visit connotes a hesitancy on patients who are all to wary of things like identity theft.

Having access to a healthcare provider online is less stressful and more practical for many patients. “People are often more comfortable talking to a computer than they are to a doctor,” said Dr. Delbanco, a professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School and the lead author of an article on doctors and e-mail in the current New England Journal of Medicine(2). However, the convenience of emailing your doctor or clinic to ask your provider questions brings up risks.As the digital and healthcare worlds advance their symbiotic relationship into the 21st. Century new threats to personal health information have also emerged in recent years.

Did you email your question to the correct person at your clinic? Did they reply to the email directly or use contact information in their electronic medical record database? In a 2005 study 70% of Americans are concerned that personal health information could be disclosed as a result of weak data security(3). With each technological advance, both the medical field and patients must be aware of the severity of improper use of public health information (PHI). According to the Heath Privacy Project, a patient’s rights information site, one in five patients are victims of improper disclosure (4).

In spite of all these risks, patients continue to utilize email and the internet in order to seek out answers to various health queries. Some visit sites such as WebMD’s Symptom Checker to find why they’re left leg is swollen, while others simply spend time at sites such as the American Diabetes Association that are strictly devoted to specific health issues. Patients often research and want to ask questions about their conditions after clinics are closed.

“It’s a matter of both convenience and comfort level,” Dr. Delbanco, an advocate for the continued relationship of email, the internet and medicine says. “In the office, a doctor sits there in a white coat exuding authority, which can be scary. There’s evidence that people tend to be more open in front of a computer, especially with tricky stuff like alcohol or sexual behaviors.” (5)

Online behavior shows that not only patients but many within the medical field want to take accessing medical information a step further. Both medical providers and patients wish to use the internet as a tool in their personal healthcare communications. “The internet will increasingly change patients’ expectations of the clinicians, so that physicians will routinely need to offer services like e-messaging, instant messaging, video conferencing and other online services,” according to Dr. Daniel Z. Sands, a primary care internist and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School (6).

Trends in patient internet use show that now is the opportune time for both patient and doctor to achieve a cooperative symbiosis within the digital ether. The digital medical office is a true possibility, but measures need to be put into place to protect patients’ private health information and a clinic’s electronic medical records.

The internet has changed where and how patients seek the help of doctors and medical providers. The e-medical caregiver can converse with his or her patients in a wide array of online communications tools, continuing the symbiotic relationship between doctor and patient. The Hippocratic Oath’s tenets of treatment, respect and privacy can be upheld as long as electronic security is also a priority to clinicians

Care Of Your Personal Health Information

A Digital Personal Health Record should contain the health care information about an entire individual lifetime and should not only provide support to continuity of care and education but also ensure confidentiality of health data at all times. This will be able to provide quality health care delivery to the individual over their life time. The portable device should have the facility to store and retrieve health care records in a rapid, secure and highly user friendly method.

Many people would like to avoid issues regarding their health as much as possible and stay far away from it, because health is always associated with something bad. That means when you are healthy, disease free you are not interested to think or talk about it. Health is equated to sickness. Health is depressing.

But, in case of medical emergencies, your health information could play a vital role. It helps the emergency health professionals and also physicians to optimize their treatment towards you depending on your previous medical history. Having a Personal health record handy with you always helps your treating health professionals to give you timely treatment.

You should always carry your health data and emergency contact information with you when you are traveling overseas or on holiday. The more medical history you have, the need for carrying these health related information is essential. It takes only a little bit of initiative to motivate yourself or your loved one to carry their health record with them always.


This article is for informational purpose only and is in no way intended to be a substitute for medical consultation with a qualified professional. The author encourages Internet users to be careful when using medical information. If you are unsure about your medical condition, consult a physician.

Personal Health Information Fraud

It might sound like a sad comment on our society but a new set of scams and cons have already started surrounding the upcoming implementation of the health care exchanges aka insurance marketplaces.

Most of these scams play on the confusion and uncertainty that remains surrounding the details of PPACA and the timing of its implementation.

A recent survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that 42% of those surveyed did not know that the law still stood, many believing that the law had been repealed or was not going into effect as planned. So confusion and misinformation is rampant leaving many vulnerable to scams and fraud.

Most of the schemes have targeted people who are currently uninsured. Although the penalty for employers with more than 50 employees has been postponed for a year, the penalty for uninsured individuals is still going to go into effect in January of 2014. Many scammers are using scare tactics to get consumers to pay a fee for their service. Some scammers going door to door in larger metropolitan areas have even told vulnerable individuals that they are subject to prison time if they do not sign up for their service on the spot. These scammers claim to be working for the Federal Government. Some call and tell people that they need to verify their eligibility for coverage and then ask for Medicare ID numbers and social security numbers. These scams have been reported in 20 states so far and more are being reported every day.

Official looking websites have been set up and are being used to scam people. Already, two bogus websites have been reported and taken down. Along with bogus website, emails and phone calls and messages pretending to be working for the Federal Govt. and offering to help consumers have been reported. Obviously the goal of these scammers is to get you personal information.

The main thing to remember is to deal only with people you know and trust when it comes to your health insurance. Professional insurance brokers who have been certified to assist consumers with health insurance decisions are your best option. However, remember that not all brokers are being certified to deal with the exchanges. Make sure the one you deal with has been certified.

When dealing with Navigators, remember navigators should never ask you for money or solicit you to sign up for any insurance plan. Their only job is to advise you how the exchanges are supposed to operate. Their job is not to sell you any insurance product. They are not licensed to do so and if they claim to able to, run the other direction and report them as scammers.