Patient Confidentiality with Electronic Health Records

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A major concern with EHR systems is patient confidentiality. Even though these systems are used with the best intentions, patient’s personal and medical information might be exposed to unauthorized personnel. An estimated 150 different healthcare professionals have access to a patient’s records during a hospitalization (Kreuser, 2007). The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets a national standard for the protection of individual’s health information (“Summary of the,” 2014). With little governance, organizations can violate HIPAA regulations. The Hospice of North Idaho (HONI), which is a not-for-profit, end-of-life-care facility, breached HIPAA standards when they did not evaluate the potential risks of transmitting electronic protected health information (ePHI) while using portable devices. These actions resulted in a $50,000 fine, coupled with a two-year probation period (Lynn, 2013). According to The Financial Impact of Breached Protected Health Information: A Business Case for Enhanced PHI Security, the health information of nearly 18 million people has been breached electronically from 2010-2012 (Kam, 2012). Such events cause the general public to question the privacy of EHRs, and because of these concerns, wary patients are less likely to disclose necessary health information. The Department of Health and Human Services estimated that because of a lack of trust in the ability of EHR systems to keep health information private, approximately 600,000 Americans did not seek earlier cancer treatment and 2,000,000 Americans did not undergo treatment for mental illness (Kam, 2012). As patients’ medical records are becoming computerized, the susceptibility to information being accessed by the wro...

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