Are electronic health records (EHRs) private?

There are privacy concerns, but frankly, that’s true of paper records, too. According to a study done by The Los Angeles Times, roughly 150 people (doctors, nurses, technicians, billing clerks) have some access to a patient’s medical record during a hospitalization. And that doesn’t include insurers and other billing companies. That’s why there are strict privacy rules designed to make sure health care information is secure -- surely you remember those gazillions of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) forms we had to sign back in the late nineties!

From The Smart Parent's Guide: Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, and Accidents by Jennifer Trachtenberg.


The Smart Parent's Guide: Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, and Accidents

More About this Book

The Smart Parent's Guide: Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, and Accidents

What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do! "Moms and dads need expert guidelines, especially when it comes to their kids' health. This book reveals the inside strategies I use myself-I'm a parent, too!-to avoid critical, common blunders where it matters most: in the ER, pediatrics ward, all-night pharmacy, exam room, or any other medical hot spot for kids. These tips could save your child's life one day. Even tomorrow." -Dr. Jen Making health care decisions for your child can be overwhelming in this age of instant information. It's easy to feel like you know next to nothing or way too much. Either way, you may resort to guessing instead of making smart choices. That's why the nation's leading health care oversight group, The Joint Commission, joined forces with Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg on this book: to help you make the right decisions, whether you're dealing with a checkup or a full-blown crisis. The Smart Parent's Guide will give you the information you need to manage the pediatric health care system. Dr. Jen understands the questions parents face—as a mom, she's faced them herself. She walks you through everything: from how to choose the best ER for kids (not adults) to when to give a kid medicine (or not to) to how pediatricians care for their own children (prepare to be surprised). Her goal is your goal: to protect the health of your children. There simply is nothing more important.
The need for privacy and security is at the forefront of the health movement. Like paper medical records, electronic records (EHRs) must always be private and secure. Healthcare providers can help protect patient information through:
  • Access controls to make sure only those who are authorized can access health information
  • Audit functions that track who has accessed what pieces of health information
  • Internet-based portals that allow patients to access their own health records, see who else has viewed their records and check the accuracy of the records

Under federal law, your health information must be kept private and protected. This is true for all of your medical records, whether in electronic or written form.

The companies that keep EHRs use secure technology to make sure no one can view the records without your consent or authorization. In fact, when you visit a health care provider for the first time or join a health insurance plan, you should be given a copy of a Notice of Privacy Practices. This notice tells you how they keep your information private.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.