Electronic Medical Record Increase Creates Privacy Concerns


Computerized medical records are quickly becoming the main way in which doctors document patient visits. Digital records have many benefits. They are easily accessible by more than one doctor, and often more efficient than their hard copy counterparts. Digital records also allow for increased patient access and are more environmentally friendly than paper records. Some experts worry, however, that as electronic medical records become more commonplace, patients’ privacy may be threatened.

Fears About Hackers

As patient information is contained on a digital server, the reality is that it will be vulnerable to hackers. If someone is able to hack into the system, they could potentially have access to a wide array of very private information for a number of patients. The reality is that this type of threat simply does not exist for physical records. The systems that contain medical records are in general highly secure and would be very difficult to break into, but the fact is that as with any type of digital information, security breaches and small glitches and holes in coding are a possibility.

Extremely Secure Sign In Procedures Required

One security precaution needed to keep medical records secure is a means of allowing physicians and other individuals who have access to information without risking the possibility of a fraudulent user taking on a doctor’s username or access code. Most medical recording systems already contain sign in procedures that are more complex than a simple username and password, which helps ensure that only the correct people are viewing records. As medical recording systems continue to advance, it is highly possible that systems for identifying users may become even more secure. Devices like fingerprint or retina scanning may be implemented to help guarantee security.

Patient Access May Lead to Security Issues

One major benefit of digital medical records is that patients can view their records from home, which may ideally keep them more informed as patients. The downside of this is that if patients to not take the correct security measures, they may be subjected themselves to breaches in their own privacy. If a patient is using a shared computer, for example, and does not properly log out of their records, they may leave data open for anyone to see. It is important for patients to remain informed about proper security procedures and the ways in which they can protect their privacy.

Control Over Which Doctors Can See Patient Records

Many physicians agree that digital records help them improve care to their patients because they allow doctors to have improved communication between one another. Some patients may not want all of their records shared with every doctor, however. In some states, patients may opt to not give access to all doctors, even if they are in a situation such as being admitted to the emergency room.

Adapting to New Technology

The medical field in general has always been at the forefront of new advances and new medical billing technology. While it is true that digital records to present security issues that are not presented by paper records, most experts and healthcare professionals agree that the benefits of digital records outweigh the potential risks.

As with any new technology, the key to making the adoption of digital records a success will undoubtedly be continuing to work to resolve breaches in security and changing systems to adjust for evolving risks. As patients continue to get used to digital records, they should remain informed as to the best way to keep their own privacy and information safe. Any patient who has a question about the safety and privacy of their records should not hesitate to talk to their doctor.