Electronic Medical Records Privacy Concerns

Published on by Xenia Labis

Electronic Medical Records — or EMRs — help medical professionals accomplish much for their clinic or medical institution. For instance, they can process medical records and streamline medical billing with the use of EMRs. But Data Privacy must be observed when handling patient data with Electronic Medical Records systems.

Electronic Medical Records store personal (and sensitive) information. EMRs help medical professionals process said information, allowing them to go through records promptly and efficiently.

Of course, with the 2019 Universal Health Care Act, also known as Republic Act No. 11223, the adoption of EMR systems has been encouraged. But although they can serve various purposes, one concern about the systems includes Data Privacy.

In general, Data Privacy allows people to process personal information as long as they comply with the law and the principles of Transparency, Proportionality, and Legitimate Purpose. 

electronic medical records privacy

Health Information Privacy of EMRs in the Philippines

Almost 90% of physicians are using EMRs or EHRs in America. However, compared to that, the percentage of medical practitioners using EMRs in the Philippines is yet unknown.

Fortunately, EMR adoption is picking up, including in rural healthcare institutions or Rural Health Units. Moreover, according to a study, RHUs’ use of their systems was directly proportional to performance level.

And while not a current, widespread characteristic of EMRs, doctors in the Philippines can already collaborate on cases via a data-sharing agreement with patient consent.

Records are available on a system at any time, so medical practitioners are informed about a particular patient and can act accordingly. For instance, while patients own their personal records, medical professionals can obtain consent from patients and record them via Consent forms. Still, they’re a delicate subject for EMRs because of Data Privacy.

Data Privacy Concerns and Solutions

Healthcare providers can collect and send the necessary information to fellow professionals quickly. Thus, more people are concerned about how discreet professionals are with that sensitive information. So patients must be aware of how and why their personal data will be utilized in a healthcare setting. The purpose for processing should be declared through the publication of privacy notices. Medical professionals must also ensure that they collect only data that is needed.

Thus, there’s renewed emphasis on Health Information Data Privacy. As a result, healthcare providers and institutions must follow Data Privacy laws, whether or not they utilize Electronic Medical Records.

Health Information Privacy

Also, according to a 2013 study, tech developments “have outpaced policy and practice.” In addition, they cited concerns such as:

  • guidelines for collecting and using electronic health data;
  • non-medical practitioners accessing sensitive health information; and
  • using such sensitive data for purposes other than health or medicine.

Fortunately, there are several fixes for these concerns:

Unify and Standardize Health Information Privacy Regulations

Of course, medical institutions and staff must follow the rules that protect patients from any unlawful sharing or unauthorized access of sensitive data. After all, the healthcare industry is required to comply with Data Privacy Laws. 

Aside from complying with the law, medical institutions must also conduct a regular review of risks associated with processing, implement security measures, and monitor data supporting assets. The use of EMRs in personal data processing enhances the confidence of patients of your clinic, improving your reputation as a reliable healthcare institution.

Create a Culture of Privacy to Promote Health Information Privacy

To create a culture of privacy, medical institutions and professionals must build awareness of Data Privacy by training their staff about the law, company data privacy policies and industry practices. Provide tips and guides on privacy through visual aids and privacy notices. Review all contracts that involve personal data processing and ensure the purposes of processing are consistent with processing activities. 

electronic medical records privacy

Additional Measures for Ensuring Electronic Medical Records Privacy:

EMR systems are the best tools for processing medical data, and the number will only rise as more healthcare professionals rely on them.

Still, Data Security not only involves knowledge of the law but preventative measures you can take to keep malicious entities from hacking your systems. 

Since they contain detailed information, you must safeguard medical records from data theft and hackers. So, here are a few critical Data Security measures that you can follow:

1. Use Up-To-Date EMR Systems

Of course, it’s vital to input medical information into an up-to-date system.

Old or out-of-date EMR systems may be more vulnerable to attacks than newer, more secure ones. So, your clinic or institution should invest in up-to-date and newer EMRs.

2. Prevent Data Breaches THROUGH DATA SECURITY

To ensure that your systems stand firm against attacks, it’s crucial to follow Data Security Measures.

So, always update data-supporting assets like personal computers and tablet devices. Additionally, you must protect them with antivirus and anti-malware software. Also, consider using Data Encryption to add another layer of security to your files.

Health Information Privacy

3. Apply Secure and Unique Passwords

In connection to the last item, healthcare staff should be in the habit of using unique passwords. The harder they are to guess, the better it is at lowering the risk of potential hacker activity.

In addition, you should only use one password for one particular account. Password sharing is not a recommended practice! Lastly, it’s a recommended practice to change passwords often.

Apply Privacy to Electronic Medical Records Today!

It’s safe to say that EMRs are making progress in the Philippine Healthcare Industry

It’s critical for patients and healthcare providers to be aware of Data Privacy laws and Data Privacy principles. When utilized according to the law, they can serve the needs of patients without much issue. Also, medical institutions and staff should take the time to follow Data Breach prevention practices regularly to safeguard against hackers.

Medical institutions and practitioners must follow Data Security measures to ensure that patient data stays safe. With Data Privacy enabled, Electronic Medical Records from the Philippines allows clinics to handle all that and more!