Reduce Security and Privacy Risks of EMR

Physician's Money Digest, March 2007, Volume 14, Issue 3

As a physician, you are getting hit from every direction about how telemedicine could benefit your practice. And according to a 2005 report published in Health Affairs, transforming health care through something like electronic medical records (EMRs) could improve efficiency and safety for an estimated savings of about $81 billion per year. But with this booming technology, security and privacy risks resound just as loud, says a recent article in Health Care News. The 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires health care providers, health plans, and business associates to adopt security and privacy standards for electronic communications, medical records, and medical transactions, and companies are jumping at the opportunity to be your guard against a privacy breach. SafetySend (www.safetysend.com), for example, offers a service that includes large-scale enterprise solutions for organizations needing secure file transfer. They also offer secure e-mail and fax components that work with your existing computer systems—no expensive hardware required—for $8 a month. Another private firm based in Atlanta, Ga, eMedicalfiles (www.eMedicalfiles.com), uses fingerprint authentication to identify health plan enrollees, and it prevents access by unauthorized persons. eMedicalfiles has also created a HIPAA-compliant interface, for patients who have multiple doctors in multiple locations, and there is a need for sharing information across different EMR systems. It is imperative that the adoption of EMR and privacy standards go hand-in-hand to ensure the effectiveness of the country's health care system.