Electronic Records: Convenience for Big Brother

The government may have bad motives for mandating electronic records.

Recently I’ve heard stories on the radio about the need for doctors and other medical professionals to convert their paper filing systems into electronic records. It seems there are both grants available to help with expenses in making the conversion and even fines for those who resist the process. All paper needs to be converted to data for “the cloud.”

These stories take for granted that there is nothing but an upside to this conversion of data. They act as if digital records are great for consumers and yet somehow doctors across the country can’t be bothered to use electronic records unless the government pays them.

But I have to wonder: Why should the government care how private businesses keep their records?

This post at the Weekly Standard raises one possibility:

Along with the primary goal of expanding the availability of health insurance, the Affordable Care Act aims to make the use of Electronic Health Records (EHR) universal. This plan actually began with the 2009 stimulus (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), which included the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. Doctors and other health providers have been offered incentives to convert patient information and health histories to a compatible and transferable electronic format, and as of June 2014, 75 percent of eligible doctors and 92 percent of eligible hospitals had received payments under the program.

This week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the release of the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020, which details the efforts of some 35 departments and agencies of the federal government and their roles in the plan to “advance the collection, sharing, and use of electronic health information to improve health care, individual and community health, and research.” The plan is illustrated with the following graphic:

collect share use

The list of Federal Agencies that potentially get access to our medical records is very long!

Here is the Daily Caller’s interview with actress Glenn Close on the issue.

Maybe there are advantages to dead tree matter!