The Future of Online Health is Connected Records
While the age old debate over whether medical data should be centralized on one database or distributed over many still rages, telehealth may be the answer waiting in the wings. Privacy concerns top the list for centralizing naysayers and our increasingly mobile population means that out days of one primary physician with paper records are over. What everyone can agree on is that either centralized or distributed, medical data should be easily accessible to those qualified and approved to use it for healthcare purposes. Telehealth communication technology can merge this gap between privacy and accessibility without sacrificing security.
The familiar concept of a database as a single, rigidly fixed storehouse for records is no longer appropriate for the world of today. Instead, cloud computing has made it common for data to be stored in multiple, linked locations, with security protocols that even the best hackers haven’t broken. Storing data in the cloud rather than on privately held databases can often mean faster, more reliable results. Data reporting is becoming big business, and the companies that are taking advantage of this opportunity for insight are coming out ahead. Direct access to patient data is what makes cloud-based telehealth so attractive, however, those strengths are also what make cloud data at risk for security breaches. When it comes to using cloud databases, security requires special attention, and new methods are tested every day to make these processes more secure.
The push toward online electronic-health-records (EHR) is relatively new as well. In the past patient medical records were local to the place of care, and it was a long and difficult process to transfer patient history. This fragmentation of records wastes providers’ time and can lead to a lower quality of care. Recent advances in cloud EHRs offer a promising look into the future, where a patient can go on vacation and still have immediate access to their health history. Unwieldy patchwork storage of records is replaced by synthetic, unified record storage. Tremendous strides toward providing this online record infrastructure are being made daily.
As with any move into uncharted territory, the path toward cloud-based medical data is fraught with uncertainties and challenges. The payoff to having a secure electronic cloud database—or set of linked databases—storing patient data for timely authorized retrieval could do wonders to prevent headaches and confusions regarding patient's medical history and make the whole process more painless. It's time the healthcare industry took this brave step toward modernizing their information systems, and as a telehealth technology, we’re happy to be right in the thick of it.