Simplify and Secure Electronic Health Records with Document Imaging

Guest post by Chris Strammiello, vice president global alliances and strategic marketing, Nuance Communications.

Chris Strammiello
Chris Strammiello

Every healthcare IT professional is already thinking about mobility and security in general, but not all consider their relation to document management. A single piece of paper could contain immeasurable amounts of sensitive data and even protected health information (PHI) that, if somehow found in the wrong hands, could present major HIPAA violations. So, how will document imaging impact healthcare technology?

The Mobile Game-Changer

As healthcare organizations transition their processes from paper to electronic workflows, mobile device use will increase. From patient registration to discharge and beyond, mobile technology simplifies patient communication via e-prescriptions, online scheduling and automated appointment reminders.

Productivity-enhancing capabilities like barcode scanners, e-forms and e-signatures also benefit practitioners by improving on-the-ground access to clinical documents and reducing manual document handling. Plus, mobile devices can curb printing costs through the implementation of pull printing, which holds a print job on a server until the user authenticates its release at the output. Ultimately, for the patient, all of these advantages translate into more time for quality interactions with their doctor; for the hospital, significantly streamlined processes and lower costs.

We also expect to see an increased use for mobile devices in medical instrumentation. Take, for example, the advancements brought to speech therapy with the utilization of a tablet’s microphone during a session. Previously, patient testing would have been done with a much larger and more complex device that would produce less data about the quality, pitch and frequency of the voice. Not only are mobile devices simplifying day-to-day workflow within the healthcare industry, but they will also revolutionize the actual healthcare practice.

Smarter, Simpler and Even Spoken Security

Alas, as with all technological advancements, security remains an essential question mark. Unfortunately, the smartphones, tablets, laptops and even multifunction printers (MFPs) that increase access to patient information are also some of the biggest security vulnerabilities in EHR implementations. In fact, theft or loss of portable and unencrypted devices is the leading source of reported HIPAA data breaches and fines. Even further, as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services now defines office copiers and printers to be actual workstations, IT professionals must secure them in the same way they do computers.

With all this in mind, both physical and technical safeguards must and will be improved in the near future, starting with the embrace of solutions that provide two-factor authentication. Commonly used in financial services, two-factor authentication combines a password with something you know, like the answer to “What is your mother’s maiden name?,” or something you have, like a fingerprint. We can expect such biometrics, including voice commands, being more commonly used as a second authentication factor in the near future. Long gone are the days of scanning your ID card to credential a print release – users will simply speak to the printer to verify who they are.

What’s Next?

Mobile technology is enabling unprecedented levels of productivity and significantly improving caregiver effectiveness. Meanwhile, modern authentication techniques secure data stronger than ever before. At the end of the day, the ultimate goal of any IT endeavor is simplification. And perhaps the most exciting part of it all is that mobile will take over faster than any of us anticipate.

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