Friday, June 24, 2011

ONC's Mostashari on Electronic vs. Paper Health Records

Are electronic health records (EHRs) systems better than paper records? Are they more accessible in times of crisis as well as more secure and confidential?

A posting by Farzad Mostashari, the National Coordinator for Health IT, pointed to the recent tornado in Joplin, Missouri to highlight the benefits of EHRs over paper records.
"The Joplin tornado proved once again the resilience and security afforded by hospitals and providers transitioning from paper to electronic health records (EHRs)." - Farzad Mostashari, National Coordinator for Health IT and Rear Admiral Nicole Lurie, MD, MSPH, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
St. John’s Regional Medical Center lost paper records and x-rays. Some records were found as far as 75 miles away in Springfield. Fortunately, just three weeks before the tornado, St. John’s had finished its migration to an EHR system of its parent company, Mercy Health System of St. Louis. Within six days the hospital staff was delivering care from a temporary facility with full access to their electronic patient records.
"Having an EHR allowed us to be able to know exactly who all the patients were in our hospital so we were able to locate each and everyone fairly quickly after the EF5 tornado hit. If we only had paper [records], it would have been very difficult to manage our patients." - Dottie Bringle, R.N., Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nursing Officer at St. John’s Mercy Hospital
Of course, by expanding and simplifying access to medical records EHRs also expand the potential for healthcare workers with legitimate access to medical records to misuse that access as has been demonstrated by numerous examples in this blog. But new medical records privacy breach detection services are available to mitigate the new risk of going electronic.
Download a white paper on medical records privacy breach detection as a service. Learn how an on-demand, pay-per-use service can cost effectively address the HIPAA/HITECH privacy and security rules - with no hardware and no on-site software.
Sources:
(a) Electronic Health Records Prove to be Invaluable After Crisis www.healthit.gov, June 22, 2011


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