When dealing with medical tourists, it is imperative that the attending doctor gets access to the patient’s previous medical records in order to offer proper diagnosis and treatment. However, a lot of doctors treating medical tourists face the issue of treating a patient based on incomplete and inaccurate patient information. Lack of proper patient data can lead to medical errors which in some cases can turn out to be fatal for the patient. This is why it has become essential to find out a way to gain easy access to patient records across borders.
In this guide you will read about:
Guide to how easy access to medical records help patients in medical tourism
Importance of Easy Access
Here are some reasons why access to medical records across borders is considered a necessity in the medical tourism business today.
- Reduced Medical Errors: Access to proper medical records would minimize medical errors as doctors can check the patient’s condition according to the information provided in previous medical records.
- Reduced Contemplation Time: Quick access to patient records can help doctors diagnose the condition quickly and start prompt treatment. This is extremely beneficial in cases where the patient would need to be treated immediately.
- Higher Quality Healthcare: Access to medical records would allow doctor’s at the medical tourism destination to offer a higher quality of care and treatment. They would be able to offer the best possible treatment for the patient in lieu with his/her body conditions and constraints. The accurate treatment of patients would boost medical tourism business in that healthcare facility.
The recent times have seen many companies coming out with initiatives to make cross border access to patient records easier and more feasible. Here are two such initiatives that can be of some help in this regard.
Medical Records Via International Solutions Smartphone App
Customers with International Solutions private medical insurance offered by Aviva would be able to sign up for a personal membership smartphone app. The app would offer an easy storage, update and retrieval solution for their medical records anywhere in the world. The app would also offer access to medical advice and emergency assistance.
Medical tourists with the International Solutions App can therefore, relax when they travel overseas for treatment as they can easily share their medical records and history with the treating physician at any of the destinations mentioned in our medical tourism destination guide.
Smart Card Systems
Germany recently came up with a Smart Card System wherein the country distributed nearly 80 million cards to individuals in Germany and in Austria. The cards would be used to store the individual’s personal medical records and history along with his/her insurance details as well.
A smart card reading device at the medical tourism destination can then be used to read and retrieve the required information. These smart cards can thus help the transfer of patient records across different healthcare professionals in a safe and secure manner. Devices such as this are planned to improve medical tourism business at the destinations mentioned in our medical tourism destination guide.
It has become necessary to provide an easy and safe way to access patient records across multiple healthcare professionals in different medical tourism destinations in order to offer quality healthcare services for patients. A lot of initiatives are underway to make this possible in a seamless manner.
How privacy and security of medical records affects medical tourism
During a routine medical tourism excursion, a client needs to provide both the medical travel arranging company as well as the doctor/hospital with a lot of personal information. Most of this data is interlinked and associated with important and sensitive personal information that makes identity theft very easy.
While larger medical tourism destinations and super-specialty hospitals provide their clients with enough legal cover to protect their identity, a client’s personal information is still at risk unless adequately privacy and security measures are taken.
The first thing you need to ensure when booking a medical tour is to know what kinds of sensitive data the hospital and the travel agency is asking for. Your contact information like email address, home address, phone number, fax number etc. are needed and there isn’t any harm in giving them out. Of course, you would also be asked to provide details about your personal habits, allergies, medications, past surgeries, general and specific medical history along with health insurance number, social security number, passport number and credit card/bank details.
A good rule of thumb when making medical tours is to get certified travel agencies and only get procedures done at reputed hospitals with the right kind of accreditation.
You may also ask for confidentiality agreements from both the travel booking agencies as well as the hospitals up front and ensure that the agreement makes the agency and the hospital liable for the protection of your medical records. If these are not provided to you or if the agency and the hospital appear reluctant in offering you one, you should them pay in cash or through a forex card and make it a point not to share your social security number, passport number or any information that isn’t vital to the treatment itself.
To protect your bank details and credit cards, it is usually better to transfer money onto a forex card and make all payments the hospital through it rather than risking giving them your bank and credit card details. For smaller payments during travels, cash should be used.
Since medical identity theft alone can allow a complete stranger to benefit from your medical insurance policies, it become quintessential for a medical tourist to ask as many questions as they can about how a medical tour booking agency as well as hospital plans on using and securing your medical data and records. You can also ask for your entire medical to be handed over to you (barring contact info) after you have successfully completed a course of treatment.
How Big Data Has Changed Healthcare
Big data is basically a buzzword that describes the huge amounts of data that some corporations and agencies have on their computer networking systems. Not that long ago, hospitals were still keeping much of their patient information in print in simple file cabinets.
Just moving out all of the file cabinets wasn’t the only great thing that the incorporation of big data did for hospitals and other companies. It opened up avenues for more efficient and safer storage of patient information and medical information.
Better Service To Customers
By getting rid of the old paper filing system and moving to an online system, hospitals made it easier to quickly help their patients. While there is still paperwork that needs to be filled out, the majority of the information is stored online, from patient information to the doctors records, recommendations, and prescriptions.
The system allows doctors to more easily access the information they want, without having to flip through a huge file of paperwork. They can also more easily track prescriptions that could interact with others, although it is still important for patients to pay attention to what they are told in office and compare it to what their prescription says when they pick it up.
The Importance Of Protection
You can’t just throw patient information onto a service and call it good. Just like your own personal information when you use a computer at home, the medical big data systems have to have protection. Patient’s names, addresses, and private medical information must be protected at all costs.
Network security is a must have on the server and network in any hospital that is keeping patient information on computers. Not only does this create protection for the patient, but it keeps the hospital from losing thousands of dollars in court, over misplaced and hacked information.
The fact that there is no need for a giant filing system, moving medical records to big data helps cut back on employee hours, paper waste, and more. There is still the need for people that can do data entry, and sometimes this can even be hired out to virtually employed individuals.
It also saves money by making treatment more optimized. Big data doesn’t just make a place for data to be stored, but it can also be used to find trends in different illnesses and treatments. This way doctors can look ahead and get an idea of what may happen to a particular patient given their illness and course of care, allowing them to make the right plan to help each individual.
The money savings doesn’t just reflect on the hospital itself though, patients can also see it. Even if it doesn’t seem as though doctor visits are getting any cheaper, it may be visible in the fact that you spend less time waiting and more time healing, which is less money out of your pocket in the long run.
How It’s Being Used
As mentioned earlier, big data is being used greatly in the healthcare field as a way to predict the future of certain illnesses, as well as a way to more accurately monitor patient care and provide accountability for doctor actions.
By reviewing data of highs and lows in a specific patient records, and then looking at similar records, doctors can provide more adequate care for cancer patients and more. It opens the medical field up to discover more amazing things, like the recent cure for Hepatitis C, which there was recently no cure for.
The next time you go to the doctor pay attention to the way your information is being handled, and don’t be afraid to ask questions about how they are safeguarding your private medical information.