As electronic health records (EHR) become the norm for medical practices around the country, it is important to consider how to ensure the most accurate data matches what the practice’s patients are seeing in the case studies. The HIPAA updates the definition of EHR, making it easier than ever for medical providers to access patient medical information electronically. However, HIPAA also poses significant challenges for EHR vendors and providers, especially in terms of data security. To better understand these challenges and to build an EHR solution that is secure, a medical office needs to prioritize its needs based on its unique set of constraints.
Objectives: Evaluate (1) whether patients can improve (or remain) their medical information quality is effectively integrated with a networked Personal Health Record when engaging practices via a cloud computing service; (2) workflow reliability and efficiency for processing and receiving patient data; and (3) whether patients can effectively access their medical data outside of the practice. In each of these areas, HIPAA regulations must be considered. For example, there are regulations regarding the protection of personal identifying information contained in EHRs. Additionally, there are regulations regarding the ability of EHR vendors and service providers to deliver secure services to patients.
In assessing these objectives, one must first identify the most pressing issues impacting the medical record accuracy of a practice. For example, if many doctors and nurses do not have a direct connection to a hospital EHR system, then the ability to collect patient data outside of the practice will be limited. In this scenario, relying on EHRs to provide medical advice to patients is a challenge. In addition, many physicians have expressed concern about the privacy of patient electronic medical records. In this setting, it may not be possible for practices to take steps to protect patient records from unauthorized disclosure.
The second area that requires review is the ability of medical providers and EHR vendors to deliver secure services to patients from a medical document. HIPAA defines a “secure EMR integration portal” as one that allows patients to view their health information in an encrypted fashion. This will ensure that sensitive data will be protected even if the EMR system is compromised. Similarly, securing communications between EHR vendors and hospitals is an important consideration.
The final areas to consider are staffing, costs, and financing. If a practice faces dwindling revenues due to increased overhead or if revenues are not expected to meet expenses, then concerns regarding these aspects of the medical facility may also need to be addressed. While HIPAA does not dictate how clinics should finance their programs, it does require that clinics create a process for collecting payment from patients who enroll in HMOs and PPOs and obtain reimbursements from providers. Likewise, clinics may need to explore alternative revenue streams such as consulting for health insurance companies on patient behalf.
Ultimately, the value of HIPAA compliance for a medical practice comes down to its ability to accurately collect, process, and report patient health information. While some argue that medical record accuracy has little to do with cost savings because providers pass on the cost of EMR and CPT bills to patients, studies indicate that this may not always be the case. As medical record accuracy and security become more important to clinics and other healthcare providers, it becomes increasingly important for them to invest in quality medical record software. By doing so, they can not only make their EMR and CPT software solutions more accurate, but they can also provide better services to patients. Check out this post https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Records_management that has expounded on the topic.