Physicians have a duty beyond the best care possible for their patients. They must protect their privacy as well as their health.
In a world where health records are increasingly stored electronically, that protection is as complex and multi-faceted as ever. Although some clinics may still fear that electronic records increase their legal risks, 75 percent of those who responded to a Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA) survey back in 2012 were already using them, with 78 percent suggesting they understand the privacy issues related to these records.
The fear extends beyond the physician, with 43 percent of those asked in a Canada-wide survey responding that they would withhold information from a primary caregiver because of privacy concerns; another 90 percent had the belief that healthcare providers are responsible for preserving the privacy of their records.
And they are protecting patients’ privacy. Although specific privacy legislation varies from province to province and within medical regulatory authorities, physicians are obligated to ensure the information is secure regardless of the method of storage.
That includes using medical transcription companies in Canada that prioritize strong encryption for email and web-based portals.
Some tips for protecting electronic records include:
- Using a data-sharing agreement to clarify obligations when sharing information.
- Use encryption for information stored on a desktop, a laptop, or a mobile device — including the ability to remove data remotely should the device be lost or stolen.
- Do not remove unencrypted information from the clinic’s premises or store identifiable personal data on unencrypted mobile devices.
- Avoid using public wireless networks (hotspots) and free email services to access or share patient health information.
- Frequently update electronic security measures, including passwords.
- When disposing of any device, ensure patient information is permanently deleted.
Electronic records offer the potential to improve patient care and the overall effectiveness of the healthcare system. But in order to facilitate the best care possible, physicians must earn patients’ confidence in order for them to feel comfortable enough to share all relevant information.
2Ascribe Inc. is a medical transcription services agency located in Toronto, Ontario Canada, providing medical transcription services to physicians, clinics and other healthcare providers across Canada. Our medical transcriptionists take pride in the quality of your transcribed documents. WEBscribe is our client interface portal for document management. 2Ascribe continues to implement and develop technology to assist and improve the transcription process for physicians and other healthcare providers, and recently introduced AUTOfax. AUTOfax works within WEBscribe to automatically send faxes to referring physicians when a document is signed off by the healthcare professional. As a service to our clients and the healthcare industry, 2Ascribe offers articles of interest to physicians and other healthcare professionals, medical transcriptionists and office staff, as well as of general interest. Additional articles may be found at http://www.2ascribe.com.