As the healthcare industry goes digital, the mountains of paper documents are becoming weightless records stored in the cloud. This change is beneficial to both doctors and patients alike, helping to save time and money, and making processes much simpler. While many healthcare providers have embraced the digital changeover, some are still lagging behind. Now Congress is making sure they get on board.
Driving the migration of records to the cloud are two laws, HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) omnibus and ARRA (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act). According to Scott Good of Forbes, “by 2015, all medical professionals with access to patient records must utilize electronic medical and health records (EMR and EHR), or face penalties.”
Moving medical records to the cloud isn’t just about compliance. It’s also opening up new opportunities to care for patients.
Matthew Toohey is a pediatrician for a private practice in Pennsylvania and the co-founder of the website PediatricianNextDoor.com, which provides information on medicine and parenting. Toohey began his career with a practice that did not use digital records and has now moved on to one that does.
“This is a whole new frontier. It’s all new to the industry and it’s evolving so fast,” Toohey said of electronic medical records (EMR) and cloud-based services. “It can change the whole makeup of how people practice medicine. You can have all of your patient records on an iPad and access if from anywhere. Cloud-based services can eliminate a lot of headaches.”
Toohey said another benefit of healthcare going digital is that it’s much easier for doctors to fill prescriptions because they can do it with the click of a button rather than having to call it in. Also, several practices are now able to provide “patient portals” which allow patients to access their records from their home computers.
As far as why some healthcare providers have been reluctant to switch to EMR and cloud computing, Toohey believes it could be due to security concerns or simply a lack of knowledge about the benefits.
HIPAA is taking security concerns into account, however, by creating a 10-point checklist to determine if a cloud provider is is up to its standards. Some of the requirements include specific security procedures, encryption of data, regular monitoring, disaster recovery, and more.
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