Public in favour of electronic
records, but want protection
OTTAWA – Most Canadians are in favour of computerizing
all medical records, provided there are safeguards for making the
documents secure, says an advisor to Health Canada.
“Electronic health records hold a lot of promise in the minds of
Canadians,” Mary Lysyk told an electronic health information and privacy
conference earlier this month. The meeting included government
representatives and experts from the private sector.
Lysyk has been analyzing five years’ worth of data about Canadian public
opinion on the use of electronic patient records and their deployment in
doctors’ offices and hospitals.
She said more than 65 percent of Canadians support the idea of having
their medical records made electronic. But a majority want privacy laws
strengthened, so the files cannot be accessed by unauthorized persons.
Lysyk said more than 65 percent of Canadians believe their privacy in
general is eroding and 54 percent are concerned their medical records
may be accessed by hackers or other people with malicious intentions.
“We still have public trust,” said Lysyk. “But, trust is not a renewable
resource – once it is lost it may not be regained.”
Conference participants discussed ways to create a network of health
providers who all have access to a patient’s electronic health record.
One possible approach being tested in the United States is implantable
microchips. The chips can be injected into a person’s upper shoulder and
used as identification to give doctors and hospitals instant access to a
In the U.S., 1,100 physicians in more than 250 hospitals have access to
scanners that can pull up a patient’s medical history. As of March,
however, only about 100 people had opted to have the chips implanted.