What Healthcare Providers need to know about EHR Data Protection

 

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One of the biggest reasons why healthcare providers decide to implement EHR practices in the first place is to keep up the security of their patients’ data. When it comes to healthcare it consulting and maintaining the patients’ information, electronic health records offer many advantages over the records maintained on the papers such as the data stored in an electronic system is more protected, most of the time, than the papers. Besides to be skilled at strongly securing their clinical data and patient information, there is an obvious benefit an EHR system renders to the healthcare providers i.e. the ability to supervise, track and inspect each person who has ever gained access to specific data and examined particular records within the systems. Having EHR system security protocols in place is particularly important as they let the authorities keep tabs on the employees who seem suspicious and might to trying to access the data they shouldn’t.

According to experts utilizing RBAC (Role-based Access Control) tool through the EHR systems can be very effective for data security. Having an RBAC tool in place can help healthcare organizations to control the system users’ access to the information and let the employees get only the data they need to do their jobs. Clearly, role-based access control systems can be utilized in any organization where the management has the say in protecting specific information, similar is with the healthcare it consulting organizations which are covered by HIPAA.

What often get most of the patients worried are their apprehensions regarding their personal information like social security number, date of birth or home address being exposed to inappropriate persons and what is being done about it. Moreover, when it comes to electronically store the data the patients are concerned that their personal health information may not be kept private and secured, and who will be able to access their health records. The most valuable information is the social security numbers in the health records which can be used for particularly for financial frauds.

Therefore, to have strong security protocols in place for the data stored in EHR systems, the healthcare providers need to take whatever precautions are needed. The data protection practice truly starts from the moment of selecting and implementing an EHR system, and, according to the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the healthcare providers need to select the system which has the following security features:

Role-based Access Control:

As mentioned afore, it let the healthcare organizations’ management define the access rights of staff members on an individual level and makes sure that only authorized employees to have access to patients’ health data. Executive staff members must be restricted to the basic data for example address, birth date, and other demographic data. Only the employees who are in practice leadership must the ones to decide the access rights for other staff members.

Audit Trails

Audit trails enable healthcare it consulting companies to track the activities within the EHRs. Registered events in an audit trail consist of an employee logging in or out of the system, opening, changing or discarding a record, organizing a patient, signing a chart, inquiring the system or taking print-outs of personal health data. Audit trails also record the time and date of a proceeding, where it took place and who carried it out. Once more, only the authorized practice managers or supervisors must be given access to examine these records. Including the office administrators, there shouldn’t be anyone having the authority to change or discard the audit trails.

Password Protection

EHRs must necessitate a password for accessing the system. Besides, the EHRs must have the capacity to maintain additional passwords or identifiers for individual users. The practice managers ought to be proficient in defining the rules for password complexity and expiration, such as the practice might need all the users to have passwords with six letters, one number, and at least one special character, and might also ask them to modify their passwords every three months. The system must also be able to involuntarily log out the staff members if they by chance forget to do so or the screen remains inactive for a period of time. In case someone constantly tries to gain access to the system with the wrong password, it must lock that user out. This prevents the user from guessing others’ passwords.

Data Encryption

EHRs must also encrypt the patient data to help the healthcare providers protect data in case the hardware is lost/stolen or the messages are interrupted by an unknown source.

Consent

The EHRs also ought to have the capacity of printing, storing and displaying patient consent forms.

In a nutshell, the healthcare providers must ensure to go for the EHR system with the above-mentioned features to guarantee patients’ health information security. Furthermore, it will be a good practice to have third parties onboard for Epic, Allscripts, or Cerner Consulting services. They are comparatively cost-efficient and can manage audit tails and make sure the data is protected.

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