Before electronic health record (EHR) and personal health records (PHR) technology becomes mainstream and widely used, those who are utilizing it will need to change their security habits. A nation-wide push is going on to propel our healthcare system into the 21st century and (finally) go electronic with our health records. With that push, however, comes stories of stolen laptops, missing printouts, trashed hard drives still containing data, and more, all potentially putting patients by the tens of thousands at risk of having their records fall into the wrong hands.
Nearly every one of these compromises is not due to sophisticated hacking or electronic breaching techniques. They’re almost all because of stupid mistakes made by people who should either know better or have been taught better.
As health care costs and issues become bigger and bigger, many innovative companies and providers are changing how they do business, by literally turning the healthcare paradigm in our country on its head. Individual doctors, patients, and employers are seeking new ways of providing affordable care at reduced cost and with better results.
The current healthcare paradigm actually encourages more sickness. Not because of any lapse in procedure or questionable new treatments, but because the way health care is paid for is literally in a way that encourages more health issues. Basically, the more often you visit your doctor or provider, the more often they get paid, either by you or, most often, by insurance. So doctors have incentive to schedule multiple appointments, looks for reasons to test for illnesses, etc.
As the economy continues to be slow and those dependent on Medicaid or without insurance altogether are feeling the pinch, one of the medical issues becoming more prevalent is dental problems. People who can’t afford or don’t have coverage for dental work are often ignoring it and letting little problems grow larger. The result? They flood emergency rooms and drive up costs.
A study in Florida looked at this trend and found that more than 115,000 people went to the hospital in 2010 for dental care that could have been prevented or done at lower costs in a dentist’s office. The Florida Oral Health Coalition, which did the study, says that’s up 9% from 2008.
Reuters has released the results of a pair of studies done here in the United States regarding how patients view their medical records. The studies show that patients want not only easier access to their records, but also to the doctor’s notes recorded in them and the ability to share those notes and records with whomever they choose.
In short, most Americans want full ownership of their records with all of the rights that entails.
While access to records has been slowly improving around the nation, it can still be very difficult for patients to access and share their records with other healthcare providers or family. Access to doctor’s notes is often next to impossible as traditionally, doctors have viewed those as a sort of hallowed ground. There are even some malpractice insurance companies that do not allow doctors insured by them to share those notes unless under a court order.
Health IT is rapidly changing on many fronts. Here at MedeFile, we mostly talk about the changes happening on the back-end, where patients don’t often see the everyday goings on. Some changes, however, are happening right before your eyes and are the kind of thing that you may see very soon, very visibly.
One of those is the virtual discharge nurse. The process of going through the paperwork, safety briefings, etc. is relatively time-consuming. Anyone who’s been through a hospital stay realizes this. One way to simplify the process from a manpower perspective is to use virtual nurses ñ discharge software with a graphical interface that represents a nurse talking to the patient and going through the routine discharge information.