According to Security Week, there were more than 121 million database breaches in the first eight months of 2015 alone, an amount that is nearly double all of the breaches that occurred in the entire year before. This may make DCs think twice about switching to an electronic health record (EHR) system.
While at first glance this may seem logical, in reality, EHRs provide higher levels of security. Because, unlike paper records, EHR’s can offer backups, restricted access, and improved file integrity. Let’s take a closer look.
EHRs Offer Record Backup Capabilities
If you’ve ever had a computer crash, then you understand the importance of backing up your data. It can take weeks, if not months, to recover all of your information, reports, and forms. Not to mention data that can’t be recovered at all.
There are situations where any record can be destroyed, such as a fire or flood. While the chances of this happening may be slim, the National Fire Protection Association reports that 100,500 non-residential structure fires happened in 2015. So the question to ask is, do you want to take a chance that this won’t happen you?
Using an EHR enables you to avoid these types of catastrophes as it automatically backs up your records both locally and off-site. Even in cases of temporary data loss, EHR’s can restore information quickly, so any downtime is minimized. Just think of the chaos if only one paper chart was missing and you can easily see the backup advantages of EHR’s.
Medical Record Access Restriction
When you use paper records, you also run the risk that one patient sees another patient’s file. It’s quite easy to do. Simply leaving a file behind after stepping out of the room for a minute can cause someone’s wondering eyes to view another patients records. Even if it doesn’t happen, any patient would wonder if at some point their records could be viewed. This not only puts you at risk of a lawsuit for failing to secure medical information, but it also erodes patient trust.
EHRs prevent this type of issue completely as you’re able to restrict access to the online data so that only you and permitted members of your staff can view it. This protects you and the patient while providing that extra level of security. Patient trust is maintained and HIPAA violations are avoided.
EHRs can also be set up to restrict employee access to certain data. This enables you to give access to the office staff who need it while limiting the availability of specific information to those who don’t.
Increased Levels of File Integrity
Another major problem with keeping paper medical records is that you only have one copy of all of your important data. This means that something as simple as losing a file can make patient treatment difficult if not impossible as you don’t have access to the person’s medical history, exams, insurance information, or anything else you need to provide effective and efficient care.
So what if you spill your morning coffee or afternoon tea on the file? Good luck reading the information beneath the stains. You simply don’t run into these problems when you use an EHR as the records are kept electronically. This equates to increased levels of file integrity because they can’t be easily lost, damaged, or destroyed.
Additionally, all of your files are stored in one place with an EHR. No more going to the basement or storage unit to dig up old records should a past patient resurface and want a new round of treatment. Whether the person was last seen a year ago or 10 years ago, you can instantly draw the information up, allowing you to provide greater (and quicker) patient care. In some cases, paper records may be separate from diagnostic tests, images, or other medical records. With EHR’s all these separate documents can be stored in one place in an electronic account. This makes accessing all records faster.
EHRs offer many different lines of security. Don’t put yourself or your patients at risk with paper medical records. You both deserve the added security of today’s EHR systems.