** Healthcare providers need electronic health records. Patients need to feel comfortable with their medical information. Here's how to satisfy both groups.** Although electronic health records (EHRs) provide great benefits to physicians and patients, they also raise caution with patients who are concerned about data breaches and privacy. It's important for physicians and office staff to realize that most patients have experienced some form of security breach, making them uneasy about the move to paperless offices. Despite laws in place to protect privacy, people still worry about issues like current or potential employers learning of a chronic illness or mental health issue.
How Physicians Can Alleviate Patient Fears
All too often patients are given a Notice of Privacy Practices form and asked to sign it without any discussion. Your office staff can help patients feel more comfortable by explaining the protection the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) offers, the right they have to choose who can gain access to their health information and what constitutes protected health information (PHI). For patients who say they are uncomfortable with electronic records, explain how they have built-in patient safety alerts and that they allow different doctors to share their health history, meaning patients don't have to remember the names of all their medications or the dates of every past surgery. For patients who say they are uncomfortable with electronic records, explain the security features: Built-in patient safety alerts the flexibility that allows different doctors to share the same health history, removing the burden from patients of remembering every medication and operation.
Adopt Best Practices to Protect Privacy
Most likely you have firewalls, anti-virus software and encryption in place, but simple mistakes can lead to the inadvertent exposure of patient information. To help protect your patients' privacy, physicians, nurses and other members of your staff can follow these basic security practices: - Create strong passwords and change them often. - Limit access to PHI. Set permissions within the EHR, either through an access control list or using role-based controls, to limit what information staff members can view. - Sign out of accounts and close patient records when no longer in use. Set up an automatic log-out after a set time of inactivity. - Maintain possession of , and securely store, devices. Keep mobile devices with you at all times. Store servers and backup devices as securely as possible. - Maintain software and uninstall any software that is not essential to running the practice. Creating a culture of security and accountability is vital to mitigating the risk of patient privacy violations in the office. These efforts lead to more secure, trusting patients and greater protections against wrongdoing.
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