Electronic medical records solve a lot of dilemmas in keeping patient records. They are less time-consuming than traditional paper records. Electronic medical records have several benefits. They include standardized documentation, improved information accuracy, and easy record retrieval. Plus, they save money, reduce paper waste, and maximize office space. Electronic medical records have taken the place of large, clunky file cabinets. This gives staff a sense of ease and makes an office space feel less claustrophobic.
Electronic records provide complete patient information that’s accurate and current. Thanks to their efficiency, patients can receive quality care within a vast network of providers. Patients who receive referrals can expect care that’s safe, coordinated, and well-organized.
But this isn’t to say that electronic recordkeeping is a walk in the park. Like most new methods, there are some significant downsides to keeping sensitive patient data stored in a database. In recent years, patient information has become more and more transparent. This is due to the widespread use of the Internet in recent years. The field of healthcare has undergone a major shift from paper records to electronic records. But what does this mean for service providers and their patients?
The challenges faced by healthcare organizations in maintaining data integrity and adhering to regulations
Technology that’s coordinated and well-organized has a downside. Despite its accuracy and efficiency, electronic records pose four major challenges for healthcare providers and patients:
- Fragmented data: Data gets disorganized due to poor communication among providers and patients. Mistakes can happen with data from diverse sources. Errors are made when one provider receives inaccurate or incomplete information about a patient’s diagnosis and treatment. This leads to medical errors or a wrongful diagnosis. Other vital information such as current prescriptions,
treatments, and medication allergies may be omitted. This information is critical for doctors because it prevents medication errors.
- Ever-changing data: Data that’s constantly changing increases the likelihood of errors due to inaccuracy. Doctors may retire, switch hospitals, or move to a new location. Patients may switch insurance providers or change plans. The result may be delayed prescription refills and treatments. New prescriptions may take even longer to fill.
- Privacy and security regulations: Security regulations on patient data are constantly changing. Custom healthcare systems are faced with unique challenges when it comes to patient privacy and protected health information. Advanced software solutions that offer data encryption help both doctors and patients. Data encryption helps providers stay within regulations that protect a patient’s sensitive data.
- Patient expectations: A “silver tsunami” is on the horizon as healthcare systems struggle to remain afloat. A fair amount of stress is expected to impact an online system. Younger generations such as Gen Z and millennials expect a different type of service. Some have engaged in telehealth, a trend that rose exponentially during the pandemic during lockdown.
Healthcare Regulations 101: An Overview of HIPAA and GDPR
People on both ends of the healthcare spectrum should know the basics OF HIPAA and GDPR. Both regulate and protect patient health information online.
HIPAA and GDPR have one thing in common: security. Both are concerned with protecting the private information of individuals. GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation, sets the standards for data protection compliance for all companies, including healthcare.
GDPR was passed in May 2018 as part of an effort to secure consumer data on company websites. It had the most impact on the European Union but soon spread to the United States. It’s now mandatory for most businesses and organizations in America. So what does this have to do with HIPAA? Are they the same, or is there a difference between the two?
The difference lies in industry. CDPR offers a general blueprint for HIPAA when it comes to protecting private information. However, CPDR covers a broad range of companies and services. HIPAA’s focus is on protecting private health information. HIPAA’s main objective is patient confidentiality.
HIPAA regulations emphasize the importance of data security in healthcare. Doctors, insurance providers, and employers who offer coverage are held liable for protecting private health information under the act. Companies like shredding facilities are also expected to follow the same compliance standards under HIPAA. Anyone who follows HIPAA most likely follows CDPR guidelines. One sets the stage for the other.
Legal Requirements and Standards
There is a set of regulatory guidelines that all healthcare organizations must follow. Failure to comply will result in fines and penalties. Patients and caregivers may seek legal action against a service provider if their information gets compromised.
All healthcare organizations must designate a chief compliance
officer. This person is responsible for enforcing regulations and is assigned to lead a team. Those who report violations have the right to remain anonymous for their protection. Employers in the field are required to have a corrective action plan to address these violations.
Regulations are always changing, and that brings unique challenges to health workers and staff. Ongoing training makes it easier to keep up with changing laws and regulations. Employers must provide continuing education to help their staff learn what’s new in patient confidentiality rules. Employees can keep up with the latest and even learn new concepts. Each employee should receive adequate training on various cyber threats such as phishing and malware.
Advanced Software Solutions for Cybersecurity
The concept of “do no harm” encompasses a lot more than treatment. It’s fair to say that healthcare professionals should do no harm by protecting sensitive patient data. Healthcare software development has several tools designed to protect consumer data online. Examples of integrity in healthcare involve using technology to protect private health information.
A blockchain is a good, preventive measure that secures patient data. But it does so with a twist. Multiple users are approved for access to a patient’s electronic records. They can read the information and make notes based on observations. Doctors use it to record medication and treatments and update their notes.
The greatest asset of a blockchain is that all data remains secure. No one in the patient’s network can alter or delete information without consent. This ensures that all private information is safe.
Audit trails are designed to inspect a patient’s record. It’s a detailed account of all activity on a patient’s record. It gives tech departments a good look at who accessed a patient’s record. It includes the date and time of access and any suspicious activity that took place.
A third software solution is encryption. Think of encryption as a type of code that hides personal data from hackers. Examples of encryption include using asterisks to conceal social security numbers and passwords.
Patient confidentiality and professional integrity are the heart of good healthcare. Protecting both should be a goal of modern medicine.
Examples of Successful Implementation of Software
Software is implemented and used by many major online retailers. Amazon, for example, uses special software known as SAP to expand its operations. SAP includes various programs designed to handle daily operations and finances. It includes a virtual HR manager and logistics software. The software allows Amazon to track online orders and manage merchandise.
Starbucks manages daily operations through an Oracle ERP. Its cloud-based design allows the company to oversee a chain of stores. It manages company finances and accounting through a secure system. It helps the company manage expenses and revenue with efficiency and ease.
Technology has made healthcare more efficient and reliable. Patients and providers can access medical data through a portal. The key is to protect personal health information. A secure system involving encryption, audit trails, and blockchains offers the best protection for patients. It’s living proof that good cybersecurity can do no harm.