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New Dell Medical School study hopes to make health records more accessible, portable

A new effort to help people who are homeless in Austin could someday speed up health care for everyone. The study will focus on making your health records more accessible while keeping them secure. (CBS Austin)

A new effort to help people who are homeless in Austin could someday speed up health care for everyone. The study will focus on making your health records more accessible while keeping them secure.

Everything hospitals do in treating you is documented in your health records. And they often do such a good job securing them it could slow things down when you need to go to somebody else.

Dr. Anjum Khurshid is an assistant professor of population health at the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas. He says, "If a patient goes to another hospital, that hospital now has to find out where that information is, go through the process of requesting that information and then bring that information into their own system."

Dell Medical School is partnering with the City of Austin, Austin Travis County EMS, and others to pioneer a new way of accessing your health records. "What we are proposing to to is a test a technology that may help in addressing this issue," says Dr. Khurshid.

The proposal involves Blockchain, ... the same technology that makes crypto-currency secure. They want to create a secure encrypted verified file of your health records that's available everywhere, but only you can access it. Dr. Khurshid says, “In one way it is distributed and encrypted so that no matter who gets access to it -- unless the individual authorizes that information to be shared -- nobody can understand that information as well."

They plan to work with Austin's homeless population to look for the easiest but still most secure personal key to use to unlock that data. "And the best way to do that is the individuals themselves the sight of their image or their biometric that allows them to get into the network," he says.

Wireless phones have started using facial recognition and fingerprints to unlock, but whatever key comes out of this study has to be unique to you. After all it is your health records they're talking about.

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