How Can I Improve EHR Security?

A. Leverkuhn

To improve EHR security, those who are responsible for facilitating these record-keeping technologies in a medical business need to focus on various critical factors, such as the supply chain for the software, its use by end users, and the general protocols for keeping digital patient health information protected. There are many questions that come up related to improving future security for electronic health records or EHRs. As these kinds of digital documents become a frequent addition to doctor’s offices, hospitals, and other care facilities, professionals will have to have an active debate about how to keep these types of records secure.

Privacy must be maintained throughout the transfer of medical records to electronic systems.
Privacy must be maintained throughout the transfer of medical records to electronic systems.

One of the biggest aspects of considering EHR security is thinking about how these records pass from one healthcare provider to another. A possible security concern is the “daisy chain” of various providers utilizing the same health information. Experts have defined the electronic health record, or EHR, as being essentially a record that is passed from one provider to another. This is not a primary concern on its own, but might be part of evaluating risk for these records, especially in looking at how patient releases allow for distribution of these records.

Another chief concern in EHR security is the actual secure storage of the data. Professionals should look at the servers holding the data, and even more, at workstations where the data may be provided to end users. It’s important to assess the possibility of computer theft or other events, which could lead to insecure data. These specific types of events, which have been frequently noted in other industries like retail outlets, should be a primary concern for those medical professionals evaluating EHR security.

One more factor in security for the data in EHRs has to do with those who are authorized to use them in a clinical environment. This includes doctors and nurses, but also covers lower level staff, from lab workers and techs, to clerical office managers, where any security concerns related to clearing employees can be relevant. Another part of adding security to EHRs is proper training for the workers who will be handling them, to prevent these workers from unwittingly leaving the information exposed to others.

In general, professionals must be appointed to monitor or oversee the administration of EHRs in various active ways. Brainstorming and a trial and error process will help medical businesses find the most effective ways to provide security for these digital resources. Specific agreements with vendors, as well as applicable security technologies, can also do a lot to improve the safety and security of patient health data, when any kind of medical business decides to upgrade to EHRs or other digital records.

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