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Hospital Concerns about Maintaining Electronic Records

Updated on October 25, 2012

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.

Electronic Records

There are concerns about the e-files.
There are concerns about the e-files. | Source

Identification Theft

Risk of ID theft
Risk of ID theft | Source

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 Changes

Hospitals and updates to legislation concerning record maintenance.
Hospitals and updates to legislation concerning record maintenance. | Source

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.


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    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Wow, Rolly yes that is a concern. Privacy is decreasing in many ways with the increase of online communications. We will see where the trend goes... Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Christy... great article and yes there is a great concern all throughout the industry of electronic record keeping. When you stop and think of what each person has out there it is scary.

      I recently had an issue with my land line phone and after much transferring ended up talking to someone in India. They had all my records and I find that to be a concern. I think we need to be more aware of what is being outsourced and who has our information.

      Very interesting read... Thank you

      Hugs from Alberta

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I am sure Jackie that the efforts are being made in this arena. While there are risks to manage, they do not always become reality. Thanks for the comment!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Very informative. Something I have to admit I have never given thought to. Surely with technology getting so much better all the time they will secure a way to keep records private and safe.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Peggy, indeed there are privacy risks with any technology. As we lean more toward digital rather than paper documents, we need to ensure security software keeps up. Thanks for the insights, votes, and shares too!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Christy,

      I guess that there are no limits to where hackers will try and get personal information be it a hospital, bank or large private or government business. Hopefully the people in charge of keeping those electronic files secure will continually do their best to stay informed and use the best security measures possible. That is one of the inherent risks we assume in this digital age. Up votes + sharing.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Teaches and Eiddwen, I agree that the potential security breaches are unnerving. That being said, we have to have confidence in the IT professionals that keep hospital systems safe and apply updates as needed. Thanks both for the comments!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      Very useful and as Bill says a little unsettling!!!

      Enjoy your weekend.


    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I guess we shouldn't be surprised by this, but then it is a bit shocking. There seems to be no end to the ways hackers can access information for profit. Training is essential in helping to keep records safe. Excellent post and voted up.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks everyone for your comments! Hospitals are aware of the issues and are working to secure the electronic data. These are concerns and it is good that awareness is growing.

    • Mellonyy profile image

      Mellonyy 5 years ago

      Very useful and informative hub, as always! Voted up and shared!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 5 years ago from California

      I would think this is a growing concern--thank you for writing about this Christy!

    • Learn Things Web profile image

      Learn Things Web 5 years ago from California

      I wasn't even aware of this. Electronic records are always a risk. I'm not sure if there is any way to 100% protect them.

    • flashmakeit profile image

      flashmakeit 5 years ago from usa

      That is awful and I believe they need to start hiring more people just to correct that problem. Thanks for sharing.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Wow, totally not a wonderful thought and do hope they can get this figured out. Have of course voted and shared all over!!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well that's a wee bit unsettling, isn't it? I hope they get their act together before I actually have to use a hospital. Good job, interesting subject, handled well by you!