Creating Patient Data Privacy through Secure Data Exchanges
Online access to health information has transformed the healthcare system. Sharing patient information across healthcare networks helps providers offer better care, improve patient outcomes, and reduce costs. However, as more and more health information becomes available electronically through Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and Health Information Exchanges (HIEs), more security risks arise. The potential for breaches and misuse of personal health record information, including insurance fraud and identity theft, demands that access to electronic health records must be carefully safeguarded.
As we have noted in the past, providing information only to people who have a legitimate right to have it and the appropriate credentials to perform transactions with it is essential to fulfilling the promise of health information technology. Patient and provider trust in the security and integrity of the systems and networks that house electronic health information is the cornerstone of the ability to apply such technological advances to medical data creating patient data privacy.
Health care organizations have recognized the value of using the online channel for better healthcare delivery to their patients or members, for more effective working relationships with health care professionals, and for internal process efficiencies. Some of the many benefits of online services include:
- Lower cost and greater convenience of access to administrative services like record updates, refill requests, and appointment scheduling
- Greater timeliness and quality of clinical services through ‘real-time’ updates of test results and notifications of changes in condition or treatment regimen
- Enabled online applications like clinical decision support, clinical messaging, and telemedicine
Assurance that only authorized individuals are accessing, viewing, and updating individually identifiable health information and performing transactions within the online channel creates trust that sensitive health records and related information will not be compromised via online access.
As the HIPAA privacy rule points out, accurate and complete information about a patient is critical to providing high quality, coordinated care. If patients or other participants in a network lack trust in the electronic exchange of information because of a perceived risk of misuse of the individually identifiable health information, it will affect their willingness to disclose health information necessary for their care and could have life-threatening consequences.
For more information about how to create a secure environment for the transaction of sensitive health data, contact our specialists.
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