How Electronically Secure are your Medical Records?
July 21, 2023
There is a fair amount of ambiguity surrounding health records and their security. While laws such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) provide some safeguards, your medical information may not be as secure as you think. Even paper records are insecure, and it is becoming increasingly more work to justify continuing to use this outdated technique of keeping patient files.
As cybercrime against healthcare organisations increases, the security of electronic medical records (EMR) has taken centre stage. Let's discuss how to make your EMR system health records more secure and safe.
What is an Electronic Medical Record (EMR)?
An electronic medical record (EMR) is a digital version of all the information found in a provider's paper chart, including medical history, diagnoses, medications, immunisation dates, allergies, lab results, and doctor's notes. EMR software is an online medical record that contains standard medical and clinical data from a single provider's office and is mostly used for diagnosis and treatment by providers. In EMRs, complete and accurate documentation of a patient's medical history, tests, diagnosis, and treatment ensures appropriate care is provided throughout the provider's clinic.
EMRs are more than just paper record replacements. They enable effective communication and coordination among healthcare team members to provide patients with the best possible care.
What is the meaningful use of EMR healthcare?
Meaningful use of EMR healthcare by all public and private healthcare providers would accomplish the following:
Improves quality, safety, and reliability while reducing health disparities
Enhances public health and care coordination
Involve patients and their families.
Maintain patient health information privacy and security.
Potential Threats EMR can face
Every EMR implementation has its own timeline and challenges because it is tailored to the needs of each clinic. Typically, the software vendor assigns a specialist to assist clinicians throughout the implementation process. The potential threats faced by EMR medical include:
Vulnerable to Hacking: While digital records are safer and more secure than paper records, data breaches are becoming more prevalent. Although certified systems include built-in security measures to protect patient data, the clinic staff must be trained to maintain basic security measures. Unattended workstations, for example, may be prone to unauthorised access.
Updates required: Other medical professionals, such as pharmacists and personal trainers, may use the same health record system, making it critical to update records after each appointment. If records are not updated regularly, inaccurate data may have an adverse effect on treatment.
Device Management: Inability to access devices due to location, power outages, or a lack of internet may jeopardise patient care, diagnosis, and treatment. Physicians may even forget to bring their devices during rounds, resulting in gaps in their records.
Phishing: Although phishing is not a new security threat, with the increased use of electronic medical records, password security is more important than ever. Phishing schemes can be extraordinarily complex, masquerading as official emails or alerts that prompt users to divulge private information, such as passwords or codes, to access sensitive information.
Blind Spots: Blind spots will become more severe cybersecurity issues, mainly when sensitive data is at stake and hackers can exploit the encryption network. Their patient's privacy may be jeopardised as a result of this.
Malware: Malware can also cause significant slowdowns in computer processing time. This can cause severe problems in a clinical setting where timely access to information is critical to providing the best possible care. In the worst-case scenario, such malware could even cause the entire system to crash.
Human Error in EMR Security Management
Understanding the error type before attempting to correct an EMR error is critical. One type of error that can occur within EMR data experience healthcare scenarios is human error. Human errors can occur due to a lack of required EMR experience, and examples include:
Using the copy and paste function multiplied by the repetition of the copying operation
Errors in data entry when typing from a paper record
Intentional or accidental record removal
Breach of data and unauthorised log-ins
How do patients safeguard themselves against human error?
To protect themselves from human error, patients should:
Obtain a copy of their medical records
Examine their prescriptions
Analyse their laboratory work
Best Ways to Protect Your EMRs
Let’s take a quick look at the effective ways to protect your EMR solution:
Investigate accidents as soon as possible and thoroughly. Take corrective action to eliminate hazards, and be on the lookout for fraud.
Offer light dutyto all injured employees by taking a proactive approach after they have been released from treatment. Supervise light-duty employees to ensure they are following all restrictions.
Direct care is given to occupational health providers. They comprehend work-related injuries and can help employees return to work on light duty. Make safety a value rather than a priority.
Communicate with the claims adjuster in serious cases involving lost time to demonstrate your interest in returning the injured employee to gainful employment.
Create a written safety programme and train employees on their safety responsibilities. Include in the programme a disciplinary policy that holds employees accountable for breaking the rules and rewards them for following safety procedures correctly.
Communicate the importance of safety to employees regularly, both formally and informally.
Make safety a priority. The senior management must be visible and supportive of the safety effort.
Review the accident history and near-misses once a month. Look for patterns in your data and address the most serious issues first.
Choosing an EMR requires careful consideration from the start, considering the initial and training costs of implementing its software. EMR's future lies in reducing security issues and ensuring effective implementation. If you have any queries, the quickest way to get feedback is to contact EMR support. Therefore, using an electronic medical record (EHR) system gives you far greater control over information security.
EMR is a digital version of a patient’s chart, whereas EHR is a digital record of all patient information.
While an EMR contains detailed information and records of the patient's medical history with one provider, an electronic health record (EHR) includes a comprehensive patient history that can be shared amongst all providers, doctors, and health organisations to help integrate treatment for the patient.
The patient record under EMR does not move out for a particular health organisation practice. In contrast, EHR allows a patient's medical records to forward to other healthcare providers and specialists.
How do you select the best EMR for your practice?
You should know that EMR implementation takes a reasonable amount of time and capital. Thus, one needs to select wisely. Follow a few steps to choose the best EMR.
Make a list of your practice's requirements.
Perform some budget analysis.
Only speciality-specific EMRs should be considered.
Ensure that the EMR system is certified.
Consider what other users have to say.
Determine the scope of EMR resources.
How has been the EMR experience for healthcare providers and patients?
The benefits EMR offers to healthcare providers and patients include:
Assist you in asking good questions.
Allows you to connect with your patients more effectively and provide them with the best care possible.