With the continued introduction of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) in hospitals and medical facilities, the ability to safeguard the information in EHRs (that providers and clinicians will need to have access to) has been a point of concern and challenge. This week, however, a trial by both the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) showed that EHRs can be shared safely and securely.
Congressional Quarterly reported that the agencies showed through their trial that information can be shared between the agencies while protecting confidential information. Officials said that the HHS’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) used new standards to securely send to the VA a mock patient’s substance abuse treatment records after electronically verifying that the mock patient had consented to the transmission.
Since the fictional case involved substance abuse treatment, an ailment that cannot be disclosed without patient consent, the trial added an additional test to prove that confirmation of electronic patient approval is possible.
“This project helps demonstrate that with proper standards in place, existing privacy laws and policies can be implemented appropriately in an electronic environment,” said Joy Pritts, chief privacy officer at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.
The use of EHRs by providers further cements what has already been identified as a hot industry. CNN Money and Fortune Magazine released an article on Tuesday that highlighted Electronic Medical Records Professional as a growth career.
The report pointed out that “just two years ago, about one in five hospitals used . Thanks to an incentive program from the government, the number is growing fast: More than 3,600 hospitals (about 72%) received payments to transition to EHRs as of the end of July.” But much of the work remains to be done, and technicians are needed to input information and maintain systems.
Those with no prior knowledge may be required to go through an eight to 10 month training program by their employer. Those with a background in healthcare, however, may have an easier transition. The article, which can also be found in the September 24th issue of Fortune Magazine can be found here.