Looks like we’re getting a lot closer to a healthcare environment where nearly every practicing physician is using electronic health records.
Guest post by Joseph Wager, senior risk management and patient safety specialist, Cooperative of American Physicians, Inc.
With the mandate of electronic health records (EHR) across the nation, hospitals and physicians are researching, evaluating and purchasing EHR Systems. These systems range in price from affordable with minimal investment to the Rolls Royce version.
Many hospitals are investing large capital dollars for EHR programs. Hospitals must choose a vendor that will meet the organization’s needs. Physicians may choose systems that are more narrowly focussed to the needs of their offices and their specialization. In other words, interoperability may be addressed for hospital EHR systems with their more diverse internal users and may not be a major consideration for a non-network physician. Even with anEHR system in place, they do not necessarily make information sharing easier since many of them do not have interoperability outside of their networks.
David Finn, health information technology officer for Symantec, discusses healthcare technology security, HIPAA and meaningful use and the most pervasive security issues health IT faces in the months and years ahead.
What issues do healthcare leaders face from a security perspective?
Well, that is part of the problem right there. Healthcare leaders are inundated with new requirements and market changes. So, there is Meaningful Use, ICD-10, ACO, HIE, new privacy and security requirements – – all in a relatively short time frame – – to name a few. On top of that, you are likely doing that with decreasing reimbursement, a difficult labor market and limited capital budgets. Security, while mandated, frequently falls to the bottom of the list because it doesn’t directly impact care or add to the bottom line. That is a short-sighted view of security. Security needs to be strategic to the business of healthcare, not just IT.
Why? What can they do about this?
Much of this has been driven by HITECH and the Affordable Care Act. So, there are regulatory components and that, in turn, has driven many changes in the healthcare market. Providers now have to do a lot of these things just to keep their heads above water – – not to mention the statutory requirements. The most important thing is to get started … you may not be able to do everything all at once. You do have to understand what needs to get done and then prioritize those things for your organization and get started.
How are HIPAA changes affecting care, coordination, tech implementation and the ability of physicians to do their jobs?
HIPAA has been around a long time and, frankly, if the industry had dealt with these things effectively starting back in 2003, which was the compliance date for the Privacy Rule and then 2005 when the Security Rule became the law, we’d be in much better shape today. Unfortunately, the incentives and drivers were not aligned to make that happen. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of things got started and don’t forget technology is very different than it was 10 years ago – – mobility, virtualization, cloud. We also have a much larger installed-base of EHRs across the entire continuum of care. So, now we have tools that really can aid the physicians and other clinicians in getting things done faster, wherever they are, at their convenience, but we’ve lagged in a lot of the security issues around those new technology tools. And, unfortunately, often systems are put in without proper attention to workflow or process improvement. Organizations that hurried to get some of these things in are now going back to “fix” them.
How is/will meaningful use impact healthcare? Are there security issues?
While the debate is still raging, few would argue that better access to information for providers and patients is a good thing. Meaningful use – capturing and using the right clinical data – over time, will improve the quality of care and outcomes and should reduce costs. It will not happen overnight. Yes, when you have confidential, legally protected information, you have security issues.
How has the push toward EHRs changed the security of healthcare? In what ways?
As healthcare has digitized, it has increasingly become a target