EHR Systems Offer Protection to Valued Medical Data

By: Michael.Young

The universal adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) and the medical management software that incorporates them continues to be a hot topic for debate. The advantages of such technology seem obvious and can now be backed with data: reduction of medical errors, increased efficiency, and improved billing accuracy are just a few benefits. Proponents of EHR systems have touted their advantages to both government and private bodies, but many individuals still remain skeptical about their use and widespread implementation.

Some opponents are just not keen to accept this beneficial technology for the same reason that has preceded the advent of any technical innovation—the fear of the unknown, or the inability to adapt. Others who have doubts about EHR systems might have more legitimate concerns. In order to assuage these concerns and make a case for electronic health records and any form of medical management software, it is important to understand the disadvantages of a paper-based system thus illustrating how an upgrade will offer superior protection to valued medical data.

A primary concern of those hesitant to embrace EHR systems is the potential for the contamination of health record data either accidentally or maliciously by people who can gain access to such systems. However, the security of EHR systems is better managed than the security of paper-based records where input is hardly subject to validation or review as in the case of electronic medical records. Currently, almost anyone could get their hands (or eyes) on private information as papers get shuffled back and forth. EHR systems maintain specifics as to who can access information, what information they have access to, and who can alter information if such an alteration is required. Such electronic systems are also capable of maintaining records of anyone who accesses information or changes it, thus ensuring a verifiable way of monitoring data integrity.

Another concern by those who don't fully understand EHR systems is the potential for data loss. Just as our own personal computers “crash,” people fear that this sort of disaster could occur resulting in the loss of valuable data. No electronic system is without its glitches, but technology has advanced such that total loss is unlikely. For electronic health record management redundancy can be provided thorough robust backup methods, sophisticated protection mechanisms, and advanced data recovery methods. As is, the use of paper-based systems of medical record management are not entirely safe from data loss or destruction. Total loss can occur due to a fire or flood; paper is also subject to organic decay or attack from insects and microorganisms. Outside of these extreme examples, you cannot discount damage which may occur through human handling of paper records. Aside from damage, an original paper record can very easily be misplaced or lost, and in most traditional paper-based systems, “back-ups” just do not exist. Transition to the use of digital data is an obvious solution to these challenges.

Those unfamiliar with the emerging technology of EHR systems and similar medical management software may fear that data stored digitally may easily become contaminated or lost. Education can help ease these concerns as those with doubts learn the capabilities of EHR systems are far superior to those of a paper-based system. The truth is, EHR systems provide more protection for this valuable data.

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Helen Walker. e-MDs offers affordable, integrated, and secure EHR systems and medical management software.

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