Patients should have the ability to choose the doctors to diagnose their condition and the performers of their treatment. Patients should have the ability to a second (or even third) opinion. They should have the ability to choose another performer of their treatment if they are not satisfied with the first-selected one.
To enable these abilities, medical records of the patients should be easy-transferable from one medical institution to another, from one doctor to another, from one physician to another. Transfer of medical records is nowadays performed using postal mail or when the patient travels from one medical institution to another. However, to enhance diagnosis procedure which is many times crucial for success of the treatment, this transfer should be possible even in the cases when patients cannot travel long distances due to their condition or financial situation.
The Internet proved to be a very good media for all kinds of data transfer. Therefore I believe it can be leveraged also as a media for digital and/or digitalized medical records transfer. Patients are the sole owners of their medical data such as medical encounters and history, progress notes, test results (e.g. EKG tracings or X-ray snapshots), prescriptions etc. Patients should have the ability to entrust the storage of their medical records to authorized medical records storage agencies – medical vaults. By granting one-time or full-time access privileges to particular employees of different medical institutions patients could share their medical records (or just their parts, to hide unimportant data for particular medical procedure) with the different doctors to gain diagnosis or a second opinion and to provide performers of their treatment with all available data to perform the treatment and to change the performer anytime they want.
EU regulation could establish legal grounds and conditions for EU-wide medical vaults for EU citizens to choose from. Secure protocols would enable patient-regulated access to the medical records in the vaults from allover EU. This would provide a basis for patients to get the best possible diagnosis from the doctors they trust regardless the distance and to get the treatments they believe will bring them the best results in the shortest time. Diagnosis and second opinion time could be shortened and made cheaper. Patients would get more influence on the diagnosis procedure and the treatment of their condition.