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Giving Patients Control of Digital Medical Records

Boot Camp feature for Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Giving patients control...of digital medical records. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. The National Digital Medical Archive ...was launched 6 year ago...as a federally funded project at the University of Pennsylvania. Initially....four hospitals contributed records and had access to the database. Now...24 hospitals are involved....and IBM has teamed with i3 Archive....to put control of digital records in the hands of patients. The initial emphasis according to Carol Kovac, general manager of IBM Healthcare and Life Sciences, is on digital mammography images....

"Women themselves can get access to their records and decide how to move them from physician to physician."

While digital images can be stored and shared more easily than traditional mammograms, there are some issues of concern. Digital mammograms aren't necessarily of more value in all cases....and often they aren't covered by insurance. Kovac hopes that will change...

"I think any time you want insurers to pay for something, the challenge is to demonstrate that it has real medical value. If your insurance company believes digital mammography can diagnose breast cancer earlier, that is actually a good thing to insurers. It's a way to save money, not cost more money."

Kovac says these digital images are just the start of a system that may eventually give patients access to and control over their medical records. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.