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Alleviating EHR Privacy Concerns

Electronic Health Record (EHR) usage has steadily increased over the years and in spite of some setbacks, federal agencies and the healthcare industry in general appear to be optimistic about the positive benefits of EHR adoption. Practical difficulties faced by hospitals and providers have not affected the attitudes of consumers towards HIT. Although some industry experts predicted that patients would resist EHRs, many research studies have shown that consumers prefer digital technology.


One such study conducted recently revealed that an overwhelming 85% of consumers are comfortable with the electronic storage of health information (Study conducted by Massachusetts eHealth Institute, July 2014). Additionally, 78% of those surveyed were positive that EHR usage would improve quality of care. These numbers are among a growing body of research supporting the government’s HIT initiatives.


The positive attitudes are nevertheless tempered by concerns regarding the privacy and security of sensitive health information. As more health data is stored in digital format, hacking into HIT systems is becoming more lucrative. Stolen data can be used to misuse drug prescriptions, steal identities and abuse the health care system through fraud. Data can be stolen by compromising central databases or by retrieving information from lost/stolen laptops or mobile devices. When even large corporations can be brought down by hackers, many patients are unsure about security and the safeguarding of their data.


However, most people appear to prefer the electronic storage and sharing of health information as long as the relevant privacy and security measures are implemented. An important reason underlying patient concern is the lack of information. Practices can help allay fears by clearly explaining their data security policies while patients fill out forms or wait for the doctor. Both medical staff and other employees such as receptionists should be aware of and practice security precautions such as locking workstations when not in use and not revealing the passwords to anyone.


Some patients may simply need reassurances that their data will not be misused while others may demand more information regarding statutory requirements or security policies. In the former case, it may be better for the dentist or hygienist to talk to the patient. In other situations, patients can be directed to an FAQ page or website containing the relevant documentation. In any case, it is a good idea to outline the major security and privacy policies on the practice website.


Dovetail dental software is a cloud-based and 2014 certified EHR program. Your practice data is stored on HIPAA compliant servers and protected by the highest security standards. You can forget about security or privacy issues and concentrate on your patients instead.