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State eHealth Record Privacy in Question

By Garrett Turner, Reporter/Anchor, gturner@ktuu.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 08:12:33 AM AKST
Updated On: Oct 20 2013 12:00:00 AM AKDT

Privacy concerns - the ACLU sounds a warning about a new electronic medical records system. (KTUU-TV, 10-18-13)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -

There are growing concerns over patient privacy as one non-profit says a new electronic medical record system has infrastructure problems.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska has concerns with the program being established that requires hospitals and doctor’s offices to have electronic health records due to a federal law passed in 2009. The ACLU has raised concerns about the program's assumption that patients want to be a part of the information exchange.

"Perhaps you have medical ailments that you don't want people to know about," said Joshua Decker, ACLU of Alaska's executive director. "The regulations would let not just your doctor see these records but telemarketers, law enforcement and pharmaceutical representatives see them."

But Alaska eHealth Network's Rebecca Madison says that's not true. The State of Alaska awarded AeHN, a non-profit, a contract to facilitate the information exchange -- and Madison says only doctors can see your information.

Another big question from the ACLU is the security of the contractor in charge of the information server.

According to AeHN, the contractor uses two separate servers, one with clinical data and the other with demographic data, so even if hackers got into one server, they'd need the other to even match the data together.

"There's no way you can ever be 100 percent sure in security," Madison said. "There's a possibility something can get hacked, however the way it's built out makes it almost impossible for someone to get in."

With the world constantly changing due to improving technology, Alaska's issue is one front in the debate over whether progress will come at the expense of privacy.