Last year my family was forced to change insurance companies. It was a terrible decision to make since we had been seeing our doctors for over 12 years and they knew all of our health issues and treatments. However, we couldn’t keep up with the $500 fee increases that happened in just two short years. All of that leads me to say that change isn’t necessarily a bad thing when it comes to technology and medicine.
What has won me over to this new insurance provider, hospital, and set of doctors? Their website! I am blown away at the strides that health care has come online and all that I was missing. My old provider required that I call in for doctor’s appointments, prescription renewals, and for inquiries. I lost count of the many times that the medical assistants didn’t convey my message accurately or failed to fax over the right forms to the correct specialist. Now with just a few simple clicks I was able to chose my doctors through reading a list of bios of those who were accepting new patients, I can e-mail my new doctors (and I tend to get a response within 24 hours), I have even been able to renew my prescriptions. Don’t even get me started on the ease of making appointments through their website!
Fortunately, more and more doctors and medical plans are choosing the cyber route to serve their patients better. Waiting on hold listening to cheesy versions 80’s hits will be a thing of the past. Watching the clock slowly tick off the seconds in the overcrowded pharmacy is being replaced by automatic mailed prescriptions and e-mailed requests from doctors. My favorite is that I can send a short paragraph to my doctor stating my ailment without having to take the time, effort, or make a co-pay for an actual doctor’s visit.
Another benefit to the synchronization of technology and medicine is that all of our medical records can be accessed through one account. Each doctor knows what the other is prescribing and what ailments I have been in for. Better yet, they can instantly send forms for blood tests, medications, and specialist referrals which eliminates the possibly of lost paperwork.
With all of the good, I can’t help but listen to that inkling of fear that my health records could be hacked or that there will be a serious breach of privacy. Here are a few tips to protect your medical privacy online:
- Use a computer that only you can access. If you are at work, your employer has the right to see where you’ve been online. If you use a public or wireless connection such as at a coffee shop, it’s easier for hackers to tap into your information.
- If you share an e-mail address with someone else, consider if you want them to know your medical information.
- Install an anti-malware program. Malware is software that can enter your computer like a virus and allows hackers to monitor the information on your computer. You can download free anti-malware programs online.
- Make sure you have passwords to enter your computer, smart phone, or tablet. Also, make sure you have strong passwords. Mixing in capital letters, symbols, or numbers is a good idea. You might even want to use phrases instead of just a word or two.