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As technology grows, patient information needs to stay secure

October 08, 2012
Uncategorized By LW Consulting Inc.

New technologies and innovations are pushing the healthcare industry forward more each day. However, it is important for medical facilities to keep patient safety a top priority throughout the implementation of electronic health records (EHRs). If proper precautions are not taken, these organizations could be hit with fines for HIPAA violations.

Last Wednesday, Don Hardwick - who works in the client relations and compliance department of a document and disclosure management company - spoke at the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) convention.  While there, Hardwick described one particular scenario where patient health information (PHI) management was left up to each individual department.

A man went to a hospital's radiology department, Hardwick said, asking to get imaging films for a patient who had been injured in a car accident. The request started to be processed before the department realized that the man was planning on destroying the films so they could not be used against him in court.

Kimberly Hagerty, health information management leader at Chester County (Pa.) Hospital and Health System, told Healthcare IT News that instances like that are the perfect reasons why the standardization of PHI quality control and patient privacy practices need to occur.

Chester Hospital, for example, is in the process of implementing a unified, centralized PHI disclosure process to ensure they remain HIPAA compliant. The hospital has already met stage one of meaningful use and has begun to integrate an EHR system as well.

According to Hagerty, the new EHR has advanced, one-click reporting functionality, including electronic disclosure request. However, that feature was not being used until the hospital made the decision to centralize PHI management.

"It was just using the technology and working smarter, not harder," Hagerty said.