Hospital Concerns about Maintaining Electronic Records
Hospitals maintain a variety of paper and electronic medical records for patients. E-records are a modern way to file the patient information. Specific hospital concerns about maintaining the growing number of electronic records are theft and changes to legislation.
Theft of Medical Records
Identification theft is a large concern for hospitals that have electronic medical records. Thieves access digital files to steal pieces of identification of a patient rather than for medical details. With the ID, hackers can assume a new identity covered by health care services and receive treatment at the hospitals.
ID theft from medical records is a larger issue in the United States than in Canada as there is no universal health care in the US. Electronic files are easier for thieves to access than paper ones. The hackers can quickly sort records by demographic to find appropriate patients to imitate, while paper files take longer as organization is by patient name.
While e-records have advantages for hospitals, such as simplifying facility audits, hospitals have concerns that the digital information is vulnerable to ID theft. As Wired explains, “the biggest barrier to high-tech healthcare is doctors' concerns about the security of computer systems.”
Hospitals need to implement security technologies to protect consumer’s private details. Computer security measures need to be in line with current regulations for how to maintain patient files.
Legislation for Hospital Records
Legislation concerning records provides another concern for hospitals. The facilities have to follow legislation for maintaining medical records. Records must also be in line with the profession’s code of ethics and professional practices. Laws change over time and facilities need to be aware of updates to practices.
Small hospitals may have greater awareness of current legislation than larger organizations as there are likely fewer resources. There are less time and staff members to research the regulations.
When a dentist’s office expands or a doctor’s office switches staff, new employees need training in the codes to keep electronic records properly. Proper maintenance needs need to be a part of staff training materials. When hospitals are already short of time or lack funding for proper training programs, the maintenance aspect of staff training may go by the wayside. New staff then struggle to understand procedures and the facility is open to errors.
Theft and legislation changes are two issues hospital face with maintaining electronic medical records. Hospitals must properly train staff and limit access to electronic records in order to keep the record-keeping process efficient and private.