According to a study released by the Washington, D.C.-based National Partnership for Women & Families, a significant boost in online access to health information is increasing patient engagement. As more patients use online EHR, healthcare providers should ensure the security of their patient data regardless of whether they are transcribing their patient records, editing the speech recognition data or using front-end speech recognition (real-time transcription) while entering data into the EHR.
When the ‘Meaningful Use’ Incentive Program began, the National Partnership for Women and Families conducted a groundbreaking survey in 2011 to assess patients’ expectations and needs regarding EHRs and health IT. In 2014, they conducted a follow-up survey to measure the impact of this evolution and these initiatives under the perspective of patients and families. The major findings of the study are as follows.
- In 2014, more than four in five patients (86 percent) having online access to their health records used their online record once while more than half (55 percent) used them three or more times a year. Online access to electronic health record system has increased since 2011 from 26 percent to 50 percent in 2014.
- It was reported that the more frequently individuals access their health information online, the more it motivates them to take some actions to improve their health. Around 71 percent of those who used online access three or more times a year report this compared to 39 percent of those who used online access less often.
- Consumers want even more robust functionality as well as features of online access than are available today such as the ability to email providers (56 percent), review treatment plans (56 percent), doctors’ notes (58 percent) and test results (75 percent), schedule appointments (64 percent) and submit medical refill requests (59 percent).
- Regarding privacy and security of health data, it was found that the patients’ trust in the privacy and security of EHRs has increased since 2011. Patients having online access to their health information have a much higher level of trust in their doctor and medical staff (77 percent) compared to those with EHRs that don’t support online access (67 percent).
Crucial Risks with Online EHR
The study findings clearly show that patients are increasingly relying upon online EHR systems than before. However, there are several challenges with online or cloud-based record systems. Here are the critical ones.
- In the case of cloud-based system, EHR vulnerabilities (faulty data entry, unexpected conversion, selection of wrong file or field and more), if they exist, will spread to all other documents in no time. It will become quite difficult for you to track the errors afterwards and the entire system will be corrupted quickly.
- Since the data is controlled by a third party vendor in the case of a web-based system, there is a big chance for data breach. As your data stays on the same database servers being used by thousands of others, patient information may be compromised. Even cloud vendors may mine your data and sell them to other companies.
It is a practical option to outsource your transcription or data editing work to ensure that the data sent to EHR is free from errors. Healthcare documentation specialists will thoroughly check for discrepancies before sending them to your electronic health record system. Reliable transcription companies provide three-level quality check by experienced proofreaders and editors. In order to ensure data security, establish an HIPAA-compliant contract with the company that clearly explains about accessibility time, requirements, security measures taken, data backups, offshore data storage, upgrade and downtime.
When it comes to front-end speech recognition, there is no way left for physicians, but to remain alert to each and every word transcribed in their computer screen. So, it is better to use such kind of EHR system for accomplishing simple tasks.