Health information accessibility and security are critical in the digital age. The (Electronic Health Record) EHR system has replaced traditional paper format and advanced health information transfer and security. The system offers instant data management benefits. EHR integration is the future of healthcare, but additional effort is required to improve security measures and protect data from cyberattack threats.
Clients can get support and advice from institutions and local governments to include their data in the EHR. A Local REC would advise in case one is eligible for EHR. The body guides and supports stakeholders in adopting a safe and efficient EHR system. REC is located in every region and is accessible to help users understand how the system operates.
The health sector has adopted health records for a considerable period. The Egyptian Papyrus Reeds (1600-3000BC) recorded healthcare records used by the civilization. Nevertheless, the tradition of record-keeping using papers became significant in the 19th century. The EHR is a breakthrough that has revolutionized how facilities deliver care and patients experience services.
The earliest developments of the EHR system started in the 1960s-1970s and the 1980s. Academic medical centers conducted the first phase as they developed data management systems. In the 1980s, the system received a broader acceptance, leading to an industry-wide system and standard. Notably, the systems were named Clinical Information Systems.
Lockheed developed one of the first systems and passed this through generations. Technicon bought the system and passed it to TDS Healthcare, Eclipsys, and Allscripts. The system became efficient and supported operations by multiple users.
Health Evaluation through Logical Processing (HELP) and Computer Stored Ambulatory Record (COSTAR) systems started at the same period. Notably, the systems’ efficiency advanced through integrated functions such as multiple vocabulary and diagnosis and multiple interfaces in nursing practice.
Today’s EHR system has materialized due to the history of research and development in technology. Technology had advanced, and components were smaller, thereby enabling personal computer devices.
The legal, policies, professional, procedural, and socio-political factors became complex as the system was integrated into public use. The EHR systems currently allow global data integration, which was unforeseeable when the technology operation in academic institutions.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 provides guidelines for EHR systems to ensure data safety. The legislation was designed to protect patient data through a system of regulations. Notably, the legislation prohibits the use of or disclosure of patient data without their consent. The clients’ information is identified as a protected information.
Moreover, the legislation also allows patients to review and edit their data. Notably, the Health and Human Services (HHS) developed the HIPAA Privacy Rule to guide the implementation of the HIPAA regulations.
HIPAA covers several stakeholders. Healthcare providers must implement the law regardless of their services and scale since they process services like referral authorization, claims, and benefits eligibility, including patient data. Health Plans are also under regulation while they offer third-party payers. The legislation also covers healthcare clearinghouses and business associates that handle patient data.
Importantly, any person, body, or institution must observe the legislation. The HIPAA and the EHR are integrated into care delivery.
The system offers several benefits to service users. The system offers accurate and complete updated information of the client. Users enjoy an integrated, coordinated, and efficient system. Notably, the system is a critical infrastructure that enhances care through security and privacy measures and complete and competent documentation.
The benefits have improved quality care since healthcare providers can access and evaluate their records and achieve patient-centered care. Moreover, the system lowers healthcare costs through the reduction of paperwork.
However, EHR faces several limitations. The associated high cost of acquiring an EHR system is the first challenge facing its implementation. High maintenance costs also affect the service providers, and periodic workplace disruption causes losses in time and profits. Moreover, errors in the system and slow adaption affects data pool and reliability.
Nevertheless, legislation like HIPAA and The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act (2009) enforces regulations requiring service providers to adopt safety enhancement. The Acts advocates for meaningful use of the systems.
The meaningful use of the EHR is broad and entails adopting a Merit-based Incentive Payment System. Other components of this system include Medicare EHR Incentive Program and Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). The system is complex and includes additional policies and stakeholders, including Value-Based Payment Modifiers and Quality Reporting System.
Moreover, meaningful system use also entails communication and stakeholder integration. Importantly, the system must achieve efficiency, safety, low-care disparity, and equality. The variables enhance patient care and safety.
Engaging families and patients are central to optimal use and outcome and meaningful system makes these its priority. The healthcare sector will achieve these benefits in secure patient data transfer, clinical and population health outcomes empowered users, and research data availability.
Threats to patient information are the main challenge EHR encounters. Cyber attackers have targeted healthcare facilities using Ransomware. The attacks are escalating, and the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency have warned against attacks targeting health facilities. Notably, in some facilities, patients have been rerouted to safer and uncompromised facilities.
Notably, the attackers buy kits and use them to attack any facility at approximately $1 million ransom. The sophisticated nature of the attacks cannot prevent EHR from achieving wider integration. The government, facilities, and users should collaborate and prevent such attacks through security and education strategies.
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