Electronic Medical Records and Confidentiality Issues
Electronic Medical Records save health care facilities thousands of dollars every year, and this accounts for the cost of the electronic system itself! Major disasters such as Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans Louisiana, showcase the benefits of the electronic medical record system. Electronic medical records are stored throughout the country so that if a tragic/unplanned event occurred, it won’t destroy the health care structure. Benefits of such a system is the time it saves to provide treatment, lessen adverse prescription errors, creates better communication between multiple clinicians and provides screenings for preventive care. The Federal government supports and now enforces the use of electronic medical records. With the government ensuring that every American will have an electronic medical record by the year 2014, patients have little say in their participation. Their concern comes from the privacy and security that their records are in. HIPAA, (Health Information Portability Accountability Act) sets the standards of how electronic records are to be shared. With this act, is it safe to believe that our records are private?
Previous health care records were handwritten by a clinician on paper forms in a folder and stored away in file cabinets. An electronic medical record (EMR) is the electronic version of this previous medical chart, and what is popularly used in today’s time of health care. “It includes all components of the patient’s medical records and enables any member of a patient’s treatment team to access the patient’s progress notes, treatment plans, medications, and other patient information from a variety of locations” (Richards, 2009). The Institute of Medicine recommended the use of EMR’s since the year 2003. Since then, electronic medical records have been proven to provide effective treatment, reduce medical errors and improved accessibility to patient’s medical records. The implantation of electronic medical records has been an advantage to the current U.S health care industry and its people. By using this system, drug interaction warnings, prescription refill notifications and annual screening reminders are what save our population today. In order for an organization to decide whether to implement this system or not, management must review the risks and benefits that come along with this. The cost of applying EMR’s is considerably high and is categorized as being a risk for a company. Not only for the upgrade in technological machinery, but also in the training of health care professionals. Managers must set aside a budget specifically for the implementation of equipment as well as the hours it takes to educate proper staff on how to make use of it effectively. This is all without an assurance as to whether this new medical technology will be a success with its employees and patient’s. It could either benefit the company by successfully bringing in more patients’, which increases profit, or it could be a detrimental loss in both aspects. With technology there’s also a risk of having a glitch happen to the system. Computers containing electronic records can easily crash due to power outages, natural and man-made disasters which may result in the loss of patient’s health information. This is a time consuming task and may cost the company even more money for recovery especially when this occurs at a larger bed facility. Computer software’s are another risk factor that organizations consider before implementing electronic medical records. When software is downloaded from a vendor’s website and run on the clinician’s computer system, the stored data is often at an off-site location. This can cause a security breech if the information is available to unauthorized persons. Overall, with these faults of electronic medical records, they are worth the chance of integrating them...
References: Badger, E. (2011). Can Privacy, Electronic Medical Records Coexist? Retrieved from http://www.miller-mccune.com/health/can-health-privacy-electronic-medical-records-coexist-32350/
Conger, C. (2010). Are Electronic Medical Records Safe? Retrieved from http://news.discovery.com/tech/are-electronic-medical-records-safe.html
Druckerman, S., Welsh, S. (2009). How Women United to Stop HIV-Positive Man. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/2020/hiv-criminal-busted-women-lied/story?id=8579258
Richards, M. (2009). Electronic Medical Records: Confidentiality Issues in the Time of HIPAA. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, Vol 40(6), pp. 550-556
Wynia, M. Dunn, K. (2010). Dreams and Nightmares: Practical and Ethical Issues for patients and Physicians using Personal Health Records. Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, Vol 38(1), p.64-73.
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