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8 Things You Shouldn’t Keep From Your Doctor

It’s important to have an open relationship with your primary care physician because the more he or she knows about your health and lifestyle, the better able he or she is to diagnose illnesses as they come up.

You wouldn’t take your car to a mechanic and not tell him that the brake is sticking, and a human organism is thousands of times more complicated than a car. But patients are shy. They’re embarrassed. They don’t want you to think badly about them, so they often leave out important information that’s critical for the physician to know. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

Your Medical Records: Who Really Has Access?

HIPAA-Violation-ScanHave you ever asked yourself the question: “Who has access to my medical records?” It’s supposed to be secure. Your medical records are supposed to be protected. For many people, they don’t want anyone knowing they have genital warts or that they were treated for depression five years ago.

Many people believe that those with access to their medical records protect their privacy according to HIPAA rules. Well folks, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, but your medical records aren’t as secure as you may think they are. In fact, if you live in Happy’s town, you might even be lucky enough to have ME get access to your medical records without even trying.

You see, my home fax number is very similar to a laboratory fax number in my city. And because of that, every week I’m getting faxes from hospitals and doctors’ office with lab results. I used to call them back to let them know, but so often I’d get put on hold or have to navigate through twenty phone options that I just said “forget it.”

Now when I get these faxes I chuck them. If I feel like taking the time to shred them I may. Otherwise, they go straight into the garbage. Except for the fax I got last week regarding Mary Smith and her condyloma results. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Happy Hospitalist*

Physicians, Technophobia, And Costly Communication Gaps

I was talking to a fellow physician about a mutual patient.  I had information  that would help him in their care and he was taking the unusual step of asking me for my information.  I was impressed.

“Could you fax me those documents?” he asked.  ”Here’s my fax number.”

I scrambled to get a pen to write down his number.  Then I had a thought: “I could email you those documents much easier.  Do you have an email address?”

Silence.

After a long pause, he hesitantly responded, “I would rather you just fax it.”  He said no more. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Distractible Mind*

Medical Records: One For The Insurance Company And One For Doctors & Patients?

Apparently, there are some legitimate reasons why a patient may lie to their physicians.

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times discusses the phenomenon, which as Dr. Gregory House would aptly summarize as, “Everyone lies.”

In fact, a recent survey suggests that “38% of respondents said they lied about following doctors’ orders and 32% about diet or exercise.”

One interesting reason is that patients are wary disclosing potentially damaging information to health insurance companies. Indeed, when patients apply for individual health insurance, their medical record is pulled up. And since trivial details can cause insurance companies to deny health coverage, patients certainly may have second thoughts about giving an accurate history.

Furthermore, “when processing a claim, the insurance company finds something in a patient’s records that contradicts something the patient said when purchasing the policy, the company can retroactively cancel the policy.”

That’s pretty harsh.

But making medical decisions on inaccurate information has consequences as well, including providing poor patient care.

One suggested option would be to maintain two sets of medical records, one that is shared with the insurance companies, and a private one that is not released to third parties. Some patient advocacy groups even go as far as saying, “If your physician won’t do that, it’s reason enough to leave the physician.”

I currently don’t offer such an option. I wonder how many other practices do.

*This blog post was originally published at KevinMD.com*

Joan Lunden Loves Personal Health Records

Photo of Joan Lunden

Joan Lunden

Former Good Morning America host, Joan Lunden, is getting behind the personal health record industry. As the daughter of a physician, Joan grew up believing that she’d become a doctor one day. She told me that all that came to a screeching halt when she “realized that she didn’t like blood or stitches.” But Joan has always kept women and children’s health advocacy initiatives close to her heart.  She will soon be starring in a new Lifetime TV show called Health Corner. I caught up with her about her recent work with PassportMD.


Listen to the podcast here, or read a summary of our discussion below.

Dr. Val: Tell me about your experiences in taking care of your mom, and what led you to become involved with a PHR company.

Lunden: I lost my brother to type 2 diabetes a little over a year ago. As it happens, he had been managing my mom’s medical care, and so with his loss I needed to step in and take it over. Of course she lives on one coast and I live on the other. I’ve got 4 little kids (two sets of twins) and three young adult children. It becomes really daunting to keep track of everyone’s medical care. Around that time I met some folks from PassportMD, and when they showed me how easy it could be to keep everyone’s records in one place, I said, “this is exactly what I need.”

I think I’m really typical of a lot of women out there in what we call “the sandwich generation.” Today a high percentage of women with small children are working outside of the home. It’s really a lot to juggle – a career, raising a family, and getting everyone to the doctor on time – forget about getting YOU to the doctor on time. As good as we women are at nurturing others, we tend to be at the bottom of our own to-do lists.

What I really love about PassportMD is not just the organization (I can immediately see all my kids’ vaccination schedules for example) but the fact that I’m building a family medical history. It’s so important to know your family history so that you can engage in appropriate screening tests and take preventive health measures. This PHR even sends you reminders when its time for immunizations, mammograms, or other appropriate screening tests.

Dr. Val: As a doctor I’ve encountered resistance to PHRs from patients because they don’t want to have to enter all the data themselves. They’d like it to be auto-populated with their medical record data so that they don’t have to start from scratch. Has the PassportMD tool solved that problem?

Read more »

Latest Interviews

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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