|This KHN story also ran in . It can be republished for free. (details)|
A decade ago almost all doctors kept paper charts on every patient. That is changing quickly as laptops become as common as stethoscopes in exam rooms. Recent hacking attacks have raised questions about how safe that data may be. Here are some frequently asked questions about this evolution underway in American medicine and the government programs sparking the change.
Are my medical records stored electronically?
At least some of the information you share with your doctor or any hospital or clinic where you’ve been treated is probably stored on a computer. It's pretty common for most hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices to digitally store your basic information including your name, address and insurance company, the same way many retailers do.
It's also likely that at least some information about your specific medical conditions is linked to that data. Health care providers have been using computers to help them get paid for decades. That means many computer-generated bills sent to you and/or your insurance company contain medical details like the conditions you were treated for, prescriptions and referrals to specialists.
Where things are really changing quickly is in the use of electronic records for day-to-day patient care. Until recently, most doctors used paper charts to record information generated during patient visits. But the 2009 economic stimulus package offered doctors and...