Healthier People: 20 Years of Public Health Achievements

Ingrid G. Hein

November 20, 2015

In This Article

Electronic Health Records

"With electronic health records (EHRs), we have a window on health to predict and gain control over infectious diseases before they become a big problem. We can be more proactive instead of reactive," says Laura Rosas, US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) lead public health advisor.

"We are beginning to see a little bit of that on the obesity issue. Obesity peaked and has leveled out. H1N1 is another disease we were able to watch," Rosas said.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) required the DHHS to adopt national standards for electronic healthcare transactions to further the use of electronic data and health records, providing identifiers for providers, health plans, and employers. With the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, additional provisions were made, improving interoperability between providers, laboratories, and local departments of public health. "The payoff of EHRs is huge," Rosas says. "That's the upside."

The downside, Rosas says, is that privacy and consent are juxtaposed against the big data movement. "Everyone wants access to the data." Big technology like Apple, Google, and others are already lobbying Congress.

"This will be the story of technology over the next 10 years. We are only at the beginning," she says.

"We have a lot to do to change the culture of healthcare. I would like to see a world where patients have access to their own data and can pay for their own healthcare without insurance companies making decisions," Rosas says. "For that, having access to your own data is incredibly important."


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