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Electronic medical records: Promised land or mirage?

Electronic medical record systems have been touted for years as the way to fix health care. Proponents say electronic prescribing would warn against dangerous drug interactions and electronic access to patient medical information could reduce unnecessary procedures. States and the federal government, particuarly in the Affordable Care Act, are pursuing plans to link hospitals, doctors and patients electronically, dangling incentives for medical providers. Meanwhile, privacy problems continue to surface with information breaches such as occurred at Stanford Hospital, where data for 20,000 emergency room patients was posted on a commercial Web site, including names and diagnosis codes.

Lee Tien, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, discussed privacy and security concerns, as well as suggesting some possible story ideas for reporters.

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