According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 72% of physician's offices had adopted digital records systems by 2012. Whether your office relies on Electronic Medical Records (EMR) or Electronic Health Records (EHR), you will certainly come across new concerns regarding data storage, backups, access, and security. Digital records are subject to entirely different rules, behaviors, and threats than older paper records. Here are some considerations your workplace should make when it comes to EMR and EHR data.
If your office equipment was stolen or damaged, would your organization be able to pick up right where it left off with a data backup the next day? If you can't say "yes" to this question, then you should seriously reassess your office's backup strategy. Look into reliable external hard drives, remote servers, or cloud systems that can store copies of business critical data. Backups can prevent major issues from arising after natural disasters, theft, and incidents of user error.
Patient Confidentiality and Security
Another major concern for medical organizations is protecting their patient data while it is stored and accessed by their EMR/EHR software. Ultimately, physicians must ensure that their computing systems are HIPAA compliant, so that sensitive patient information doesn't leak out or get accessed by unauthorized parties. Your office must carefully balance a secure network with restricted login settings, usage practices, and encrypted storage devices. Employees should learn basic tech security strategies, such as avoiding malware in emails and not trusting unsecured storage devices, such as found zip drives. Your IT department can also keep patients safe by ensuring that employees rotate their passwords on a regular basis and avoid mixing personal and professional communications.
Natural disasters, utility accidents, and other environmental factors can cause the power to go out in your medical office. Since most digital filing systems have completely replaced traditional paper ones, your team might be completely lost if you don't have a backup power supply. Vital charting information and prescription medication data can be lost during emergencies. If this information is critical for your patients, then your office should absolutely invest in an alternate power supply for the computer systems.
One of the driving reasons professionals are switching to EMR and EHR technology is that it should be extremely convenient and easy to use by medical staff. Before you invest in a software solution, make sure that it is compatible with your organization's current and upcoming hardware purchases. Think about how you'd like to use this software- will you want mobile tablets that can be used in multiple patient rooms? Or do you want static workstations in a specific examination room? These configuration plans can guide you to make well-informed purchases.
Digital filing systems require a great amount of pre-planning when it comes to hardware configurations, security, backup copies, and alternative power supplies. These systems will quickly prove to be indispensible for your medical office.