Value-Based Care: A Patient-Centered Approach Requires Knowing Your Patient

Value-Based Care: A Patient-Centered Approach Requires Knowing Your Patient

Aspirin, penicillin, monoclonal antibodies, interventional cardiology, and genome editing have undoubtedly revolutionized medicine. However, while all of these have been breakthroughs in the field of medicine, not much has changed in the way that doctors do their jobs. Patients visit their doctors, the doctors diagnose, they recommend tests, they prescribe drugs, and they are compensated according to the volume of work done or the number of procedures performed.

If medicine is to progress in the 21st century, things have to change at every level, including the way that doctors work and receive compensation, the way they identify the right patient, and the way that patients are treated.

The long-awaited system that is going to change the way doctors work and are compensated will soon become a reality. This new system is called value-based care.

Value-based care is about compensating doctors according to outcomes. This encourages more personal attention to patients and transitions the healthcare system from cure-based to preventive medicine. It is a system in which doctors receive a higher level of compensation for either better outcomes from procedures or enabling patients to avoid health-related problems altogether.

There are several benefits of a healthcare system where the right patient gets the right kind of care.

Value-based care can save patients a lot of money. Putting aside the historical projections of healthcare inflation, the U.S. is also facing major epidemics of chronic, non-communicative diseases like diabetes, high-blood pressure, and cancer. It is no secret that many of these ailments are preventable with timely intervention and/or the correct behavior. Value-based care creates an environment where doctors can help patients to avoid these diseases by intervening at the right time. A doctor would identify the right patient to design a prevention plan before a disease can manifest where things become more complicated and expensive.

Once the right patient, a patient with a high risk of developing a chronic illness, has been identified, the doctor would be encouraged to spend more time with her, teaching her to take better care of herself so that complications can be avoided. There would be a reward system for identifying the right patient and taking timely preventative measures. It would also result in higher patient satisfaction.

A value-based care system would also lower drug costs. Historically, manufacturers decide the price of their medications without taking into consideration the value that a particular drug has in terms of its effectiveness and overall patient wellbeing. A value-based system would also encourage the development of personalized medicine where treatment plans and even pharmaceuticals can be tailored to specific patient needs.

The backbone of the value-based care system would be patient identification and data mining. Many are already demonstrating why medicine should incorporate more data-based modeling to augment physician decision-making.  Data mining helps doctors and the healthcare industry as a whole to better understand the outcomes of various therapeutic approaches. Ultimately, it can help to create the right kind of individualized solution for the right patient.

Unfortunately, realizing optimal results from data mining and value-based care has its challenges, especially as healthcare organizations start mining data that has been accumulated over long periods of time. On average, at least 8% of hospital patient records consist of duplicate data. Thus, an intelligent way to sort out these duplications and identify the right patient is desperately needed.

It is stated that value-based care is about the right patient getting the “right care, in the right place and at the right time.” Instead, the maxim should be, “RightPatient® enables the right care, in the right place, at the right time.”

RightPatient® guarantees that a patient medical record is never mixed up with another record and the hospital ecosystem will always recognize the patient with the help of cognitive vision. Mistakes from common patient names, fraud, human error and other issues are always prevented.

As we all know, chains are only as strong as their weakest link. In many hospitals or medical institutions, there is an urgent need to strengthen this weakest link throughout the entire system – overcoming the errors of false identity and data duplication with RightPatient. Only then can the benefits of value-based care and data mining be fully realized.

How Big is the Patient Mix-up Problem in the U.S.?

How Big is the Patient Mix-up Problem in the U.S.?

Hollywood has created several films featuring a person that was wrongly informed about cancer or another fatal disease with the patient being told that they only have a few months/days left to live. Upon hearing this news, the patient goes on a spending spree and adventure only to discover in the end that things have been mixed up. This might make for a great movie but in the real world, if such a patient mix-up happens, the outcomes may be far worse. 

But just how frequently does this medical record mix-up problem happen in real life?

It seems that the problem of so-called mistaken patient identity is big enough to cause serious problems – something that is very evident from the article published in the Boston Globe, reporting 14 cases of mistaken identity

Reports indicate that medical errors due to patient mix-ups are a recurrent problem. Consequently, a wrong person may be operated on, the wrong leg may be amputated, the wrong organ may be removed, etc. In fact, CNN reported that in 6.5 years, in Colorado alone, more than 25 cases of surgery on the wrong patient have been reported, apart from more than 100 instances of the wrong body parts being operated on.

It would be challenging to estimate the true total number of patient mix-ups simply because the vast majority of them go unreported until something untoward happens. Even in cases where complications do occur, most medical organizations would not be eager to publicize them. 

Today, it is widely accepted that medical errors are the third largest killer in the U.S.; that is, far more people die of medical errors compared to diseases like pneumonia or emphysema. It is now estimated that more than 700 patients are dying each day due to medical mistakes in U.S. hospitals. This figure clearly indicates that medical errors often occur even though a fraction of them will have fatal outcomes. It also tells us that cases of patient mix-ups may be shockingly high and indeed underreported.

Though several thousand cases of mistaken patient identity have been recorded, it remains the most misunderstood health risk, something that hospitals barely report, and an outcome that patients do not expect to happen.

The U.S. healthcare system is extremely complex, making it challenging for a single solution to resolve this issue. There have been lots of efforts to implement a unique identity number for each patient (a national identifier) but political roadblocks have proven difficult to navigate. The chances are bleak that any such national system would be created, as patients remain profoundly worried about the privacy of their data.

At present, perhaps the best option is that each hospital finds its own way to solve this problem by developing some internal system to make sure that patient mix-ups don’t happen. Or, a better idea is to leave this task to the professional organizations that specialize in the business of improving patient identification. The RightPatient® Smart App is a perfect example of an innovative solution that is powered by deep learning and artificial intelligence to turn any device like a tablet or smartphone into a powerful tool to completely eliminate the problem of mistaken patient identity.

Technological solutions are often meant to augment human efforts, not to replace them. Here are some of the ways to avoid patient mix-ups:

  • Always confirm two unique patient identifiers within the EHR (Electronic Health Record), like patient name and identity number.  Though this is a standard practice, many mistakes still occur due to similar first or last names. Thus, an app like RightPatient can help to eliminate the chances of such an error.
  • Two identifications should be used for all critical processes.
  • There must be a system to alert staff if two patients have a similar first or last name.
  • Avoid placing patients with similar names in the same room.

Although patient misidentification and medical record mix-ups continue to plague the U.S. healthcare system, there is hope to address this serious issue with solutions like RightPatient. Now, we just need healthcare providers to make this a priority and take action. 

How Opioid Abuse Exposes Hospitals

How Opioid Abuse Exposes Hospitals

Whenever I’m talking to a healthcare provider about RightPatient, the topic of “frequent flyers” inevitably arises. For those who might not be aware, frequent fliers are patients that use different aliases to obtain healthcare services. It’s estimated that between 2-10% of patients arriving at the emergency department (ED) provide some kind of false or misleading information about themselves. Typically, these patients are lying about their identity to obtain prescription medications, and most of these are for opioids.

Since these patients lie about their identity or demographic information, hospitals often end up writing off a considerable amount of money for their services – up to $3 million annually on average. Aside from these financial losses, frequent fliers also pose other risks to providers that are associated with patient safety and quality of care. Why? Because they also frequently lie about prescription drug use or addiction.

What’s worse is that this behavior is not limited to frequent fliers. Any patient can lie about their addiction. Many of these patients lie about their addiction to opioids, specifically. As we all know by now, the U.S. has a serious problem with opioid addiction, a crisis that killed over 33,000 Americans last year. This crisis has no rules or boundaries, and does not seem to select for a particular demographic. Anyone is susceptible to getting hooked on opioids because they are so addictive.

The opioid epidemic has far-reaching consequences that extend beyond the health of the patient; however, in the ED, this is the primary concern of a clinical team. Considering the circumstances, this question seems relevant – “how can healthcare providers ensure high quality of care when patients lie about their identity and/or drug use?”

RightPatient can play an important role in helping to answer this question. Our AI platform can accurately recognize the patient and offer key clinical insights by detecting patterns in the patient’s appearance over time. Clinicians won’t need to rely on the words lies coming out of a patient’s mouth, patients with no ID, or expensive tests. RightPatient automatically knows who the patient is and whether or not they are at risk of opioid abuse.

ED nurses who suspect a patient of abusing opioids will typically search the patient’s belongings to make sure they aren’t prescribed something that could cause an adverse event or even kill them. Unfortunately, the human eye, clinical intuition, and patient reliability have many shortcomings. Luckily, RightPatient can augment clinical diagnostics with cognitive vision to help fight the opioid epidemic and save a lot of lives and money in the process.

Data Personalization in Healthcare

Data Personalization in Healthcare

Personalization in healthcare – everyone talks about personalized medicine, how about data personalization?

One size does not fit all. Thus, medicine is seeing a shift from a standard model of care to a personalized model of care. The emergence of cloud computing, wearables, machine learning, and continuous progress in data management has made the delivery of personalized medicine more possible. Personalized data along with predictive analytics would change the way medicine is practiced today. It has the power to create a proactive health system that can help to address diseases at their earliest phase. Personalized data will help to craft medical solutions “especially for you,” rather than a single solution for all. It would also help consultants to free up time so that they can concentrate on developing a lasting and trusting relationship with patients.

When the human genome was first decoded, there was tremendous excitement about the ability to predict diseases and provide personal health solutions; however, soon it became evident that our overall health cannot be determined by analyzing small snippets of our DNA, as valuable as they might be for understanding specific risks. Medical or health-related decisions cannot be made in the absence of better personal data or a more holistic understanding of the person being treated.

With the help of personalized data, it would be possible to shift from the so-called model based on diagnosis and treatment to one of early disease detection and even a predictive model of medicine, along with personalized solutions.

Traditional medicine has depended not only on the phenotype and genotype data but other variables as well – a personal relationship with the patient, understanding patient lifestyle issues, surroundings, life events, social and family conditions, and much more. Data personalization can help to bring back that edge to automated systems through the customization of data. Data personalization is about delivering the right information about the patient, to the right person, at the right place, at the right time, in the right way. More than ever before, this is now conceivable due to better availability of personal data, personal devices, services, and applications.

Data personalization would make it possible to create a reasoning engine that has the ability to predict and make recommendations by using personal data of the patient provided by various resources.

Data personalization can take personal medicine many steps forward by adding the human touch and predictive analytics.

Perhaps in making medicine personal and predictive, personal information is what seems to be missing. If included in the algorithm, it would surely make predictive analytics more accurate and dependable. Personalized data would help to serve patients in the best possible way by shifting focus from merely disease determination to prevention, timely intervention, and better treatment.

Data personalization should not be taken as something new in medicine; in fact, it is a more natural way of providing health services, and closer to the traditional practice of medicine as it is about integrating the psychological, behavioral, and other measures that have become possible due to improvements in technology.

Combining the human biology with existing knowledge of epidemiology and clinical medicine would result in more personalized care. It is more like giving a human touch to the technology – something that has been a characteristic of traditional medicine, supporting the notion that doctors know their patients far better when a closer relationship is established. Thus, personalized data can augment that missing human factor in modern practice.

As more electronic personal data becomes accessible, systems become more intelligent. Having better learning capabilities and better availability of personalized data would revolutionalize the way we provide healthcare.

 

RightPatient-beckers-hospital-review

Leaders of healthcare gather in Chicago for Becker’s Hospital Review Conference

Just as the cooler weather finally emerges in hot & sunny Silicon Valley, I was summoned to attend the Becker’s Health IT and Revenue Cycle Conference in the windy city of Chicago. Downtown Chicago is definitely one of the most beautiful destinations – I was excited. Mike (the co-founder) found a great apartment with the Airbnb app – a high-rise tower right next to the Whole Foods market and within walking distance to the venue for this year’s conference. I arrived a bit late that evening and most restaurants were closed by the time I was ready for some self-indulgence. So, I reluctantly grabbed some salad at a nearby sports bar and decided to enjoy the mesmerizing Chicago skyline as I walked back home – a great start.

RightPatient-beckers-hospital-review

Our booth setup was nice, although we wondered why some smaller sponsors got a better booth space than we did. We were shoved in the middle of many random companies when a bronze sponsor (and a “competitor”) was enjoying one of the most amazing locations – the benefits of the “circle of friendship,” I guess!

After learning a bit about how RightPatient prevents duplicate medical records and eliminates chart corrections in different EHR systems (just one of our many benefits), Walter R. Houlihan, the Senior Director of Health Information Management at Baystate Health spontaneously uttered, “yeah, I see the duplicates and record mix-ups all the time. My team is the one that fixes them.” Baystate Health needs our biometric patient ID product – please buy it!

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Bob LaFollette, COO and Senior Administrator of Urology from OSU

Another visitor, Bob LaFollette, COO and Senior Administrator of Urology from OSU was a charming and interesting individual. His first question to us was, “Guess what OSU stands for?” Between guesses of Oregon State University, Oklahoma State University and so on, we were corrected with the right answer – Ohio State University. He got a kick out of it!  Besides the fun and warm conversations, Bob was absolutely ecstatic with hearing how RightPatient helps with patient safety and how we automatically add patient photos into medical records. If Bob was the decision maker, I bet it would have been awesome for us.

 

 

RightPatient-Zero-gravity-skin

Towards the end of the second day, I made an effort to go around and meet other companies. I have never seen so many Revenue Cycle companies all in one place – looks like money collection is the game in healthcare! There was even a company that helps to collect & recover money from international patients! I couldn’t even begin to imagine what tactics and strategies they follow in certain countries but it can’t be anything better than tactics used by the bounty hunter. Another interesting company was called Zero Gravity. Their feature product on display was an LED-based anti-aging facial rejuvenation system. People had lined up for a free session – why not? It’s free.

RightPatient-Zero-gravity-skin

There were some awesome presentations, discussion, and workshops – I only attended one session by Ms. Murphy of the University of Chicago School of Medicine. It was amazing and I will write a separate post all about it. It was also great seeing the CrossChx team – once rivals, now we work together very closely. They focus on their Olive AI product while we provide biometric patient ID even to their clients.

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To top off a great weekend, as we were preparing to wrap up, the boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard emerges seemingly out of nowhere to take pictures with everyone. Well, a great way to end the show with a lasting memory of the charming champion!

 

At the Becker's Conference, learn how RightPatient prevents patient fraud

At the Becker’s Conference, learn how RightPatient prevents patient fraud

The Becker’s 2017 (and 3rd annual) Health IT & Revenue Cycle Conference is only a few days away! Needless to say, we’re excited, and it’s not just because George W. Bush and Sugar Ray Leonard will be there. The conference has a great lineup of speakers, presentations, and, ahem, vendors like RightPatient that will be providing a wealth of information on a variety of important topics.

The timing of this conference could not be better considering the recent Equifax data breach, which puts over 140 million Americans at risk of identity theft. This has serious implications for healthcare, but the good news is that patients and providers can mitigate their risk with RightPatient.

Since our inception, we have always recommended Photo Biometrics with RightPatient and have never deviated from that position. This didn’t come out of left field; we are, by far, the most experienced vendor in our market segment with 15 years of experience in biometric technology. We have worked with many biometric modalities, implemented our technology in projects around the world, built some massive biometric matching systems, and generally know this stuff inside and out. That’s why we always knew what was best for healthcare and had a vision of how Photo Biometrics would be used with our platform to transform the way that patients are identified.

 

RightPatient accurately identifies patients by simply capturing their photo. At provider locations, this is critical to prevent identification errors and medical record mix-ups that affect patient safety, revenue cycle, and data integrity. With 1,000 patients dying each day from preventable medical errors and hospitals writing off millions of dollars annually from denied claims and patient fraud, health systems should have an easy time justifying RightPatient.

But, for good measure, we now have the Equifax breach. Patient fraud was already a serious issue with 2-10% of patients showing up at the ED and providing false information (I’m looking at you, frequent flyers). We’ve heard countless stories from customers before they implemented RightPatient about frequent card sharing and outright fraud that was costing them millions in annual write-offs (RightPatient has since eliminated these issues). With the personal data of over 140 million Americans now compromised, how much easier will it be for someone to obtain care, access healthcare information, or gain a medical record release under a stolen identity?

Here’s the bigger question – why deal with any of these risks at all? For a small monthly fee, healthcare providers could implement RightPatient and solve these issues. When patients interact with their providers, RightPatient captures their picture and accurately identifies them. The service is contactless (ideal for hygiene/infection control), supports mobile devices (e.g. EMTs, unconscious patients, home health visits), and the patient photos that RightPatient simultaneously captures deliver unparalleled value in various ways.

If you have a chance, stop by our booth #1003 at the Becker’s Conference to check out why RightPatient is transforming patient ID in healthcare and to learn about our vision. We look forward to seeing you there!

 

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Prevent Patient Record Mix-Ups Before It’s Too Late

It’s no secret that patient identification is a challenge, but unfortunately, a frightening number of “wrong patient, right procedure” mix-ups still occur every day in hospitals and health systems around the country.

For example, an article published on bostonglobe.com highlighted a case at UMass Memorial Medical Center where a patient was mistakenly diagnosed with cancer and underwent unneeded medical procedures before hospital staff discovered a mix-up with the patient’s CT scan results. And, according to the article, this is far from an isolated case of mistaken patient identity at this hospital.

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The good news is that there are tools that can help hospitals and health systems prevent such dangerous mistakes.

The RightPatient® Cloud, for example, is designed to prevent mix-ups and cases of mistaken identity by streamlining patient identification procedures and reducing the risk of human error—all while dramatically increasing the chances that the right patient receives the right treatment from the right providers.

Most hospitals and health systems rely solely on patient identification procedures that require healthcare staff to use two pieces of patient information, such as full name and date of birth, to match patients to their medical records.

However, in today’s bustling healthcare atmosphere, it can be easy for healthcare staff to forget to perform proper patient identification procedures. And, many patients do not speak English, are unconscious or have similar names and birth dates, all of which increase the risk of medical mix-ups.

Patient-identification-errors-are-prevented-with-RightPatient

Healthcare regulators and public health officials are increasingly sending the message to hospitals and health systems that the time to make changes to patient identification procedures is now—before a potentially disastrous mistake occurs. 

By implementing the RightPatient system, hospitals can eliminate patient identification guesswork for healthcare staff. That’s because the RightPatient system captures a photo of each patient upon admission to the hospital.

After the patient is enrolled in the system, the patient’s medical record is locked and can only be opened using the patient’s unique biometric identifiers. The system can be installed on any smartphone or tablet, making it portable enough to meet the unique needs of staff and patients.

Although hospitals are spending millions of dollars on electronic health record systems, population health software and other advanced equipment to protect patients and streamline operations, most of these systems overlook a fundamental aspect of patient safety: Ensuring that healthcare staff are accessing the right records and providing the right care to the right patient.

EHR-statistics-RightPatient

  • The bottom line is that healthcare consumers go to hospitals to get well and hard-working doctors and nurses do everything in their power to make that happen. When patients are not identified correctly, bad things happen.
  • The sad fact is that one simple medical record mix-up resulting from a patient mismatch is all that it takes to throw a patient and their family into distress, negate the hard work and dedication of the doctors and nurses who are trying to help, and damage the reputation of the hospital where the incident occurred.

With RightPatient, all that is required to eliminate these risks is a simple snap of a camera when a patient walks into the hospital. That doesn’t sound like too much to ask, does it?

protecting patient data in healthcare

How Doctors Can Transmit Patient Data Securely

How Doctors Can Transmit Patient Data Securely

Doctors must take precautions when sharing patient data. Learn more about how doctors should protect your PHI in this guest post from Heather Lomax. (Photo courtesy of pxhere)

The following guest post on protecting patient data was submitted by Heather Lomax.

Communication efforts in the last few years have greatly advanced between doctor and patient. Instead of having patients drive out for a visit or make drawn-out phone calls every time something needs to be discussed, some doctors’ offices have started to use online portals and email correspondence with patients. These options are extremely efficient, but they also place patients at a higher risk of medical identity theft. Therefore, special measurements need to be taken in safely transmitting patient data.

PHI Data and Email Encryption

First and foremost, patients need to make sure their devices are encrypted when they access medical data. Not operating on such a system places data at risk for theft with ease. Therefore, portals offering medical data need to be encrypted as well. Patients should be made aware that if their computers at home are not secure, then they place their data at risk there as well. Sending patients emails also requires another degree of encryption.

Different Types of Email

Several types of emails exist when it comes to safely transmitting data information with patients. For web-based email applications, doctors’ offices and patients alike need to use accounts with HTTPS encryption. This method is the only means by which web-based email is secure. The email is sent to a patient should also be encrypted using either PGP encryption methods or Symantec Digital IDs. In both of these aspects, each email comes with its encryption.

Use Cloud Services for Fax and Email

HIPAA regulations make specific claims about how data should be transmitted between office and patient. One of the methods to use for this communication relies on cloud services for both faxes and emails. These cloud services have their own firewalls and encryption procedures, and they make certain that data only goes to a specific location. More often than not, a specific receiver has to acknowledge that they accept a fax. A VPN access code can be used for this process.

Biometric Identification

As passwords become obsolete and even unsafe for healthcare data security, biometric identification is steadily rising in practice when it comes to accessing sensitive information. With passwords comes the potential of breaches in security, even with the most carefully crafted codes. However, with the use of fingerprint analysis, retina scans, and facial recognition software, it’s nearly impossible for identity fraud to take place since these characteristics cannot simply be imitated. And not only does it reduce the risk of billing fraud – it also prevents deadly medication errors, improves response rates to medical emergencies, and expedites health information exchange services (which will be discussed in the next section).

Use Three Different Forms of Health Info Exchange

When in doubt, doctors’ offices should use three, distinct methods of Health Information Exchange (HIE) with patients and other medical offices. The first type is directed change, where data can be sent and received securely through an electronic medium between providers and coordinated support care. The second option is a query-based exchange, which offers providers the opportunity to find and request information from patients and other providers when unplanned care takes place. Finally, doctors’ offices can use consumer mediated exchanges, a method which allows patients to have control over data and how it is used among different providers.

Conclusion

A great deal of options is available when it comes to transmitting electronic patient data. Rather than rely on flimsy means of protection, alternative options with tighter security like encrypted care, biometric identification, and HIE paths should be implemented instead. If your practice or hospital can introduce even one of these methods as part of their data transfer strategies, you’ll notice a great improvement in workplace efficiency as well as security for your patients.

Author bio:

Heather Lomax is a contributing writer and media relations specialist for Blaze Systems. She writes articles for a variety of medtech blogs, discussing solutions for optimizing healthcare data protection and clinical technology.

accurate patient ID in healthcare helps increase patient safety

New Partnership with CrossChx Signals Positive Changes for Patient ID

New Partnership with CrossChx Signals Positive Changes for Patient ID

Announcing a new partnership with CrossChx to help expand the use of biometric patient ID tech in healthcare.

In case you missed it, on Friday we officially announced a new and exciting partnership agreement with CrossChx. Under the terms of the partnership, CrossChx  customers can easily transition their existing SafeChx biometrics solution to RightPatient, while continuing to utilize other CrossChx products such as Olive artificial intelligence.

The healthcare industry continues to suffer the ill consequences of inaccurate patient identification, jeopardizing patient safety and the quality of care. RightPatient helps to alleviate patient misidentification and instantly and accurately identifies patients by capturing their photo. This photo is linked to a patient’s unique medical record and travels with them throughout a healthcare provider’s network to ensure safety during care delivery. Plus, clinicians at hospitals that use our patient identification service have commented that they love having a patient’s photo before administering services to help humanize care delivery and help patients feel welcome instead of just thinking they are a name and a number. We love to hear this!

Take notice because the winds of change are shifting for patient identification in healthcare. More providers recognize and understand the advantages and benefits of modernizing their patient ID technology and many are taking a very close look at the advantages that our service offers. Keep in mind that implementing a biometric patient identification service offers additional advantages above and beyond patient safety – most notably improvement in revenue cycle management, increases in patient data integrity, and prevention of fraud and medical identity theft at the point of service. 

Read more about our new partnership with CrossChx here.

Have questions? Drop us an email at: info@rightpatient.com

 

 

protecting healthcare data

Healthcare Data Security: How Doctors and Nurses Access, Utilize, and Protect Your Information

Healthcare Data Security: How Doctors and Nurses Access, Utilize, and Protect Your Information

Docs and nurses need access to your protected health information (PHI) to provide you optimal care. What steps are they taking to protect that healthcare data? (Photo courtesy of pixabay)

The following guest post on healthcare data security was submitted by Brooke Chaplan.

Anyone who has been to a doctor’s office, hospital or other healthcare institution knows that these can be busy places with patients waiting to be seen and professionals bustling about to perform their duties. With all of this activity going on and various personnel involved in your care, you may wonder about the security of your medical records. Sensitive information lies within the paper and electronic files used by your medical providers. Let’s take a look at how doctors and nurses access, utilize and safeguard your healthcare data.

Confidentiality, Privacy, and Security

First, it’s important to identify the difference between three different terms that are often used interchangeably within healthcare. The concepts of confidentiality, privacy and security are related, but each has its own significant meaning with regard to balancing the needs of patients, providers, the public and other relevant parties such as insurance personnel. When discussing confidentiality in the medical field, the term refers to the duty of personnel to hold any patient healthcare data to which they have access in the strictest of confidence.

Privacy is a separate concept that has to do with an individual patient’s right to decide how personal medical information is shared and with whom. You may be familiar with HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This statute by the federal government states that, while a patient’s right to privacy and control of their healthcare data still exists, there are some parties to whom such data can be shared without prior patient approval. These include public health officials, health organization administration and payment providers. Finally, there is security, which is all about the protection of confidentiality and privacy of patients. It refers to the ways in which healthcare data is stored and accessed.

Medical Records and Their Use

Your medical records contain a wide range of information. Your full name and unique patient number within that particular healthcare network is stored in your records, along with demographic data like your date of birth, gender and race. Your allergies, medical conditions, lifestyle habits in addition to detailed accounts of every provider visit, lab result, prescription and referrals. Your payment, billing and insurance information are also kept in your medical records, as is your family medical history.

Organizational Policies and Procedures

As you can see, there is a great deal of sensitive and personal healthcare data kept within your individual medical records. In order to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of patient data, healthcare and medical organizations pay special attention to create structured policies and procedures regarding the way such information is handled, stored and accessed. Each network will have its own unique set of guidelines, but the matter is taken very seriously among medical providers. In fact, an entire profession known as healthcare or nursing informatics is dedicated to the management of healthcare data. Many universities also offer a masters in nursing informatics program. An informatics expert is usually employed to help organizations protect patient health information and to ensure only necessary professionals can gain access.

Healthcare providers work hard to care for your medical needs. They are also concerned with the proper care of your personal data. You can rest assured that procedures are in place to ensure the security of your private and confidential information.

Author Bio:

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.