Health, the Cloud and Security — Why Our Medical Records Should Be Our Own

Something that’s always interested me, is how complicated it is to get your own healthcare records. Now, I live in the United Kingdom, so our healthcare system is relatively unique and I can only speak to that regard. However, despite the incredible value that we gain in the U.K. from our national health service (NHS), it’s oddly challenging to get ahold of your own healthcare records and it’s even stranger how difficult it is for one doctors surgery to get them from another.

During my adult life, I’ve moved house a lot. I’ve been a regular renter and have moved for work. In doing so, I’ve had to move doctors surgeries a lot and in the process my healthcare records have sat in some kind of limbo where different surgeries have different amounts of information (think of it like technological “versioning”).

My family, on the other hand, have stayed in the same city for roughly 30 years or so. Yet, many of them are unable to have a consistent experience with doctors. Since around 2010, one of them has had an undiagnosed condition that presents itself very similarly to multiple sclerosis except that they actually only have a single lesion causing the problems.

Another family member recently visited the hospital and asked a nurse to present them with their blood type as they needed it for a form, and she politely declined, quoting data privacy laws, despite being asked by the individual who “owns” the blood in their body…

The important thing is the lack of consistency between visits. They see the same main doctors, who’re incredibly committed, for most visits but occasionally have to see different specialists who then suddenly can’t access the medical records. Why? And more importantly, why don’t my family have their medical records? Why don’t we all have our medical records?

I’ve wondered this for many years, and I still can’t offer a simple, obvious answer to the question. I can’t even convince myself why. It’s my health that is recorded, so why can’t I carry that information wherever I go? On my smartphone, a tablet or a secure cloud for that matter?

Now I understand the privacy concerns behind all of this. I’m constantly interested by the interplay between convenience and privacy. But for something so personal, so fundamental, it seems odd that I can’t even gain access to my own records, let alone be the key master.

There has to be a solution to all of this, a secure way to store and manage our health records but so that we are the ones in control, we are the ones who get to share this information with our doctors, and we are the ones who decide our own futures. After all, we are the ones living our lives, right?