The rise of COVID-19 in many ways pushed the American healthcare system to the limit and into the future. For doctor’s visits today, instead of finding a babysitter, looking for a parking spot, and then having to sit in a crowded waiting room, many Americans are now accustomed to being able to “phone it in” for their medical appointments.
Each week there are new stories about how telehealth is helping everyday Americans and making healthcare more accessible. Recently, a dermatologist relayed how he was able to examine a longtime patient’s burn wounds and provide timely instructions as to what the patient should do next. Also, I have heard promising stories of increased access to mental health services—a critical component for maintaining a healthy mind during this pandemic.
COVID-19 is a key reason for the leap into technology-supported healthcare. But in this new frontier, we must balance the safety and security of the doctor-patient relationship with the ability to easily access our own health records.
When the 21st Century Cures Act became law in late 2016, it made great strides to improve the interoperability of healthcare data and electronic health records. Both as a physician and a patient, I have long been frustrated by the difficulty of efficiently accessing patient records. This experience drove me to write this part of the law.