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By: Stephen O'Connor

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January 10th, 2014

5 Reasons Why Electronic Health Records are More Secure than Paper Records

Electronic Health Records

5 Reasons Why Electronic Health Records are More Secure than Paper RecordsIf your medical organization has been sitting on the fence regarding a switch from paper records to electronic health records, you may think that paper records offer you better security for your patients. In fact, using an electronic health record or EHR system offers you much better control over information security. Here are five reasons why electronic health records are more secure than paper records.

Grant Access Only to Authorized Users

When you use a paper-based system for your patients’ medical records, it’s possible that an unauthorized person could access them without your knowledge. Someone leaves a patient’s file out instead of putting it back in the filing cabinet, for example, or misfiles the information.

If you’ve ever been making a photocopy of important documents and then become distracted by a phone call or other diversion of your attention, you know how easy it is to leave a document behind for someone else to view. With an EHR system, you can control precisely who has access to patient information.

Encryption Keeps Information Secure

A paper record is open, letting anyone see it, transcribe details, make a copy or even scan or fax the information to a third party. Electronic records can be protected with robust encryption methods to keep crucial patient information secure from prying eyes.

Your organization already must do everything possible to comply with HIPAA and other privacy regulations, and electronic health records make it easier to maintain confidentiality over paper records in this respect.

Paper Records Subject to Tampering

Paper records can be altered in a manner that can be difficult to detect. Someone can remove papers from a report, for example, or produce an altered copy to substitute for the real information.

Electronic health records are protected by encryption and strong login and password systems that make it much more difficult for someone to make unauthorized adjustments to the patient’s chart and other information.

Audit Trails

Electronic health record or EHR systems give medical organizations enhanced security because they let you do audit trails. Typically, there is no foolproof method for doing audit trails on paper records.

With an EHR system, you can quickly determine which people have accessed a patient’s records, when they did so, and whether the access was authorized. In the event that someone accesses information that they shouldn’t be seeing, an audit will shine light on the situation, unlike paper records, which can be problematic to control.

Data Backup after Disasters

Keeping your patients’ records secure is much more than controlling access to confidential information. You also need to make sure that the data will be available under worst-case scenarios. For example, in the event of a criminal trespass or vandalism or natural disaster such as a fire, floor or earthquake, you will be able to restore your confidential patient data from an offsite backup and get back up and running much more quickly than if your organization was relying on a paper-based system.

As you can see, switching over to electronic health records will provide your organization more safety and security for your patients’ confidential data. An EHR system also provides you with a number of other benefits, including increased staff efficiency and reduced errors while helping you become more profitable.

Key Takeaways

  • Electronic health records enable you to give only authorized personnel access to patient data.
  • Strong encryption protocols make sure that confidential patient information remains secure.
  • Paper records pose a number of security risks and it can be difficult to detect when they have been tampered with.
  • With electronic health records, you can maintain your patient data in secure backups, enabling your organization to quickly recover after a data disaster.
The complete guide to electronic health records software

*Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos

About Stephen O'Connor

As a Director of Digital Marketing at Advanced Data Systems Corporation, Stephen spends his day's planning, writing, & designing resources for the modern healthcare professional. He has a strong affinity for snow crab legs, the ocean, and Rutgers Football.

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