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Impact Of Electronic Medical Records Essay

1210 words - 5 pages

Impact of Electronic Medical Records
April 7, 2013 
Technology has brought the world of medical services a long way throughout the years, including the introduction of electronic medical records (EMR). But does the use of the EMRs benefit patients or does it put patient confidentiality at risk? First, to understand the impact EMRs have on each and every one of us, understanding of EMRs is necessary. “An electronic medical record is a digital version of a paper chart that contains all of a patient’s medical history from one practice”. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services , 2012) EMRs allow medical providers to access information quickly and accurately. There are many ...view middle of the document...

(Services, 2012) Where major hospitals may have the funds for such a major transition, smaller practices may not be able to afford it. “With the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, it now requires the adoption of EMRs by 2014 for seventy percent of the primary care provider population. More than $17.4 billion dollars in financial incentives were offered to physicians to help offset the cost to implement the systems”. (HRSA, 2012) To ensure adoption of EMRs, the government put guidelines into place that state physicians that have not implemented EMRs or that cannot prove “meaningful use” by the end of 2015 will suffer penalties. The government is trying to help physicians ease the transitions, but ultimately this cost is passed to all Americans through taxes and insurance premiums. This cost could be justified if the promise that it will reduce prices for our health care system in the long run is upheld and patient privacy is the top priority.
With the nature of data that is retained in medical records, security is a critical element to safeguard a patient’s privacy and confidentiality. If patients do not feel that their information is safe, they may be less likely to tell the physician vital information regarding their care. This could lead to people not receiving required medical attention. AMA's Council stated, “ the purpose of a physician's ethical duty to maintain patient confidentiality is to allow the patient to feel free to make a full and frank disclosure of information to the physician with the knowledge that the physician will protect the confidential nature of the information disclosed.” (American Medical Association, 2013) “The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has attempted to protect the privacy of medical records by enacting a Privacy Rule under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, although HIPAA doesn't succeed in protecting patients' privacy or confidentiality because insurers, researchers, and pharmaceutical companies can still access information. The goal of patient information privacy conflicts with the goal of improved healthcare that can be achieved with EMRs. Provisions in HIPAA provide some confidentiality protection, but not enough.” (Gail Dudley, 2004) Another concern, as with any computer software or program is hackers accessing vital information. Also, any number of viruses could potentially cause the system to crash resulting in loss of data. This highlights the importance of backing up files, a process which could lead to other potential security threats. On September 13, 2011, Tricare tapes containing back up files of more than 4.9 million beneficiaries were stolen from a government contractor’s vehicle. Sensitive information, such as names, addresses, social security numbers and some medical data was obtained by criminals. This could potentially...

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