Patient Privacy and EHR

One of the biggest concerns healthcare professionals hear from patients is in regards to their privacy. Many patients are concerned about how secure their records are. In 1996 HIPAA  was introduced, which is a set of regulations to keep health care records secure . All of these measure are still in place. The same rules that apply to paper records apply to electronic records.

Electronic records are much more secure than paper records. Everyone who accesses these records are tracked. EHR tracks who is logging on, and exactly which patients charts they are opening. Some healthcare facilities have extra measures, for example a pop-up window asking why this chart is being accessed. This requires the user to put in their reason for opening the chart (i.e. patient here for appointment, patient is calling for medication refill) and their password. This is especially helpful for employees that are also patients at their place of employment.

Another benefit to electronic records and keeping them private, the entire set of records does not have to be disclosed. If a patient record needs to be disclosed (treatments, insurance, etc..) only the essential elements need to be included. A Provider can easily exclude or include these items. Note, certain agencies including life insurance are exempt from this law.

Patients have every right to be concerned, we constantly see in the media breach of security. But we need to assure them their information is secure. Electronic health records are heavily protected with data encryption, passwords, lock features, time-out features, reviews of user records, protocols and agreements for each user, and many other security measures. Data security is definitely a hot topic in this day and age, and is constantly evolving.

In-depth reading on security can be found here

Further reading


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