In much of the US and Western Europe, the transition to electronic health records and informations is already in process or already seems inevitable. Electronic health records surely enhance effectiveness, create exponentially more information that scientists might be able to use to unlock the secrets of the some of the most stubborn diseases, and provide countless more benefits - or so the story goes. Yet the transition to electronic health records is more complicated than this. And there's also less convincing evidence that transition to electronically based information systems will directly and quickly improve the quality of healthcare patients receive. As this article reports only 12% of Americans reported having email access to their physicians. Secure messaging is one such example of a tool that needs to accompany electronic health records and information management systems in order to help not only health providers and insurance agencies, but also patients themselves.
Within the next decade, “all individuals, their families, and care providers should be able to send, receive, find, and use health information in a manner that is appropriate, secure, timely, and reliable.” ... We’ve drifted far off course since 1962, when President John F. Kennedy proclaimed the nation’s intention to “send to the moon … a giant rocket … before this decade is out.” NASA accomplished Kennedy’s heady mission in less than seven years. It will take considerably longer for us to sort out how to exchange electronic health information.