The American medical system is endangering lives because of its sloth in adopting electronic health records, according to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
However, the Australian medical system poses grave privacy risks because of its rush to computerize everyone's medical records, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Gingrich now heads an advocacy group, the Center for health Transformation. Recently, he joined Senator Hillary Clinton in supporting legislation intended to advance electronic health records in the United States.
Reportedly, the rate American medicine is moving toward computerized records is slow. While the United States has yet to develop its health information technology strategy, Australia has already released a detailed strategy to deploy a nationwide system over the next four years.
Reportedly, Gingrich stated that patients die because their health records are currently unavailable. To solve this, he said that the medical system should use the same record-keeping systems now used in other sectors of the economy.
Medical safety standards should match aviation safety standards, he added.
Others dispute whether computerizing medical records promotes safety. Reportedly, a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found adverse reactions to prescription drugs caused by medical errors are "about as common in computerized setting as in noncomputerized ones"
Another advocate of computerized medical records, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt, cites lower costs as well as fewer risks as reason for them.
Australia's rapid pace toward computerized records has provoked criticism. According to the Morning Herald, Australia's new plan is involuntary - Australians would no longer be able to choose whether their own records would be computerized. A voluntary system would be too expensive, it adds.
"This still means certain people, such as the NSW premier - who already has powers to access health records - could in theory have access to any patient's health record," it states.
According to the paper, there already have been examples of people's privacy being breached.