What the Medical Records Revolution Means to Your Special Child: An Electronic Medical Records Primer for Parents and Physicians

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AS EVERY EXCEPTIONAL PARENT KNOWS, the needs of a special child are, simply put, special. For every area of life, an extra amount of thought and care must be taken--whether it is education, traveling considerations, and, especially, healthcare. However, it is in the area of healthcare that parents say they face the most challenge. For years, doctors and parents have struggled to overcome the limits of healthcare technology, geography, and time. But, things are quickly changing and in a way that will dramatically improve the lives of children with special needs and their parents as well as improve 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 ways never possible until now. Net giants like Google and Microsoft are setting up online portals that enable patients to create their own personal healthcare record of information. Vemics' iMedicor--the health industry's first free, HIPAA-compliant personal health information exchange recently launched, allowing physicians an easy way to collaborate and share medical records in a worry-free online environment. However, this is just the beginning. This medical records revolution will fundamentally change how physicians practice medicine and the quality of care they will be able to provide their patients. However, for a parent of a child with special needs, the medical records revolution may even be more meaningful.

A few hypothetical situations faced by exceptional parents easily come to mind, for instance, when you are traveling and your child encounters a serious medical problem. Time is an issue, and you don't have access to your normal attending physician, who is familiar with your child's specific healthcare i.e. allergies, medical history, and test results. This situation could apply to every emergency medical situation or accident at your child's school. Other common situations involve the time it takes for parents to receive children's 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 parent-physician relationship and magnify the emotional toll of an already difficult situation--especially for those with chronic diseases who need to track and manage their diseases. The advent of online medical record access and exchanges can change this and guard against worst-case scenarios that could mean the life or death of a child in need. …