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For years, doctors and patients have struggled to overcome the limits of healthcare technology, geography, and time. However, things are quickly changing and in a way that will dramatically improve the lives of patients and the quality of healthcare their attending physicians are able to provide.

The medical community has long been looking at the Internet as a way to simplify and accelerate the way they work, communicate and learn. With the rise of online social networking sites, the demand for immediate real-time information sharing, and the affordability of broadband and network access, doctors in different states, countries, and even continents can rapidly exchange patient medical records, diagnose, and collaborate on prescribed treatments in way never possible before until now. Google and Microsoft are fast-tracking the electronic medical records revolution with comprehensive online portals enabling patients to create their own personal health care record of information.

Each of these exchanges – whether for personal health record creation or for the use of healthcare professionals – have their own unique elements. For instance, with Microsoft’s HealthVault, users can store their prescriptions, test results, notes by their physician, information information and more. The site’s tools also let users upload data from blood glucose monitors, sports watches and blood pressure monitors. In this way, the user can share their health record information with whomever they choose. Google’s Health platform – which will directly compete with Microsoft’s Healthvault – is expected out in this year and will tap the web giant’s formidable ability to store and organize data. However, this is just the beginning.

Now other technologies are coming online – including the creation of electronic health record transports (EHRTs). For instance, Vemics’ iMedicor is a free HIPAA compliant personal health information exchange that allows physicians an easy way to collaborate and share medical records in a worry-free online environment. Through EHRTs, physicians, hospitals, and the larger medical community will able to vastly improve the way they treat and manage their patient relationships not to mention the quality of care. A few hypothetical everyday situations easily come to mind. For instance, when you are traveling and you encounter a serious medical problem. Time is an issue and you don’t have access to your normal attending physician, who is familiar with your specific healthcare situation i.e. allergies, medical history, and test results. When your health is at stake, the more information the emergency room physician has the better. So, for instance, if the ER physician needs an x-ray, it is possible to upload and deliver the image almost immediately. On some EHRTs, an x-ray dicom would take about 8 seconds to upload and send with a good connection. A set of 30 dicoms takes about 12 minutes. This situation can apply to every emergency medical situation.  The advent of online medical record access and exchanges like this can help guard against worst case scenarios that can mean the difference between life and death.

Other common situations involve the time it takes for patients to receive test results or a second opinion on a diagnosis. For parents, it can be an excruciating wait for their child’s results, especially in cases of a serious illness. Moreover, the wait time can undermine the patient-physician relationship and magnify the emotional toll of an already difficult situation. This is especially relevant for those with chronic diseases who need to track and manage their diseases.

However, even in the daily practice of a physician, EHRT portal sites can help physicians improve the quality of care and better connect with their patients. For instance, instead of receiving lab results over the phone via an automated system, patients can receive the results directly and communicate with their doctor through the EHR transport. Most EHRT portals accept EHRs from any vendor – whether sending or receiving – with the use of a special driver. In fact, many systems do not even require an EHR for it to work. If used without an EHR, the systems work very similar to encrypted email and secure messaging..

A final consideration is the EHRT portal’s There are other chat room-style portals for physicians in wide use within the industry to facilitate industry communication. However, a looming danger exists for health providers on this type of portal. Physicians can inadvertently violate HIPAA rules and subject themselves to tremendous liability. Due to privacy safeguards, the sharing of patient medical records is strictly regulated under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or HIPAA. Violating HIPAA can trigger a range of fines and, in extreme cases, even imprisonment. With all the extra tools out there now for the health care community – choosing which online tools to use is more important than ever in light of patient privacy concerns, liability for doctors, for their legal counsel in advising them, and health care insurers in general. For patients, it is important to ask your health care provider to make sure their medical information exchange is compliant with HIPAA and meets all the necessary privacy safeguards.

Tom Dorsett is the President of Healthcare Solutions for Vemics. He can be contacted directly by email at

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