HIPAA And EMRs

Being HIPAA compliant is not legally mandatory and all medical facilities are expected to remain within the legalities of this act. Those who don’t follow through face consequences as stipulated by the act.

It is important to understand how medical records are controlled and transferred in modern day medicine. If these records are not handled properly, the patients have legal rights in place to ensure they are treated properly.

HIPAA or “Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act” came about in the 90s as a way to standardize what was happening in the world of medicine. The records were not being administered well enough and that was a major concern.

Now EMRs are being handled with care and it is because of HIPAA and what it requires from those who are running practices.

Right To Access

The act gives patients the right to access at any point they deem fit. If there is a need to gain access to their record, the facility cannot withhold this information or they will be breaking the law.

They are also able to ask for multiple copies of the same record and the provider has to give it them to on the spot.

Withholding multiple copies without the permission of the patient is also illegal and does not fit under the act that was made in the 90s.

This makes it easier for the patients to know they have access to this information at all times.

Six Years Of Retention

The facility is expected to retain all patient information and maintain it for at least six years. After this, they are able to discard it (if not required).

The minimum amount is set so patients can access it later on and don’t have to leave it there without purpose. This is great for those who are switching facilities and/or moving. It makes it easier to retain access.

After six years, the HIPAA compliant facility does not have to bear responsibility for the record and get eliminate them as they deem fit.

The act is clear about this six year period.

Covered Entities

There are certain entities such as medical providers who are allowed to access these record when they are being transferred over. There has to be a logical reason behind this transfer and it can’t be done without justification. A good example of such a transfer taking place would be if the doctor is seeking an additional viewpoint on a case. It could also be the transferring of patient information to a surgeon before surgery takes place.

These are covered entities under the act and can access all patient-related information.

EMRs have to be managed in a standardized manner or things would be all over the place. This was how it was done in the 80s and that was not conducive for what was needed. It was difficult for all involved to remain secure with the information and this also put patients in a horrible situation.

With HIPAA, it is easier to now remain standardized while managing EMRs.

Medical 3D Printing And Its Benefits

3D printing is all the rage right now in the world of technology, but what about some of the better medicine-related uses that are out there for this tech? Can it be used in healthcare? Yes, it is already being used because of the potential it provides for those who work with 3D objects in medicine.

There are multiple uses that have been found with 3D printing and many medical facilities are now using them for their own needs.

They cite the control that comes along with medical 3D printing is just hard to deny and is worthwhile for their own cases.

Great For Prosthetics

The main use for 3D printing is through the development of prosthetics after a patient has been assessed for their specific requirements. Prosthetics are all going to vary because no two injuries are going to be same. Each cause is going to have specific needs as to how the prosthetic is developed.

Instead of doing with hand and not getting accurate results, medical 3D printing is able to take it up a notch and really get it done well.

The prosthetics are better and stronger than the would be without the printing. They are also accurate down to a tee.

Easier To Customize

Customization is one of the things a patient would need if they were having something done with the use of a 3D printer. It doesn’t just have to be a patient, but general studies that are being conducted in the world of medicine. Without the customization feature, the “cookie cutter” printing wouldn’t do much for the process.

3D printing helps with customization to the point where every little detail can be tweaked. This type of control is powerful when hoping to get specific results through the printing that is being done. What other option can give this type of overall control?

Enhanced Details

The amount of control that is provided by a 3D printer cannot be matched by anything else. The detailed nature of the printer will make sure any medical work that is being done will remain accurate and flawless. This is all a medical practitioner can ask for when it comes to such tasks being completed with the printer.

The printing technology is also improving, which means the accuracy is only going to get better and it is already ahead of anything else that would be used to do the same thing.

Medical 3D printing might be one of the most important changes that are going to help with accuracy and overall quality compared to anything else. IT is also being studied as a potential option for those who are wishing to recreate cells in the hopes of learning more about tumors.

There are researchers who are using such technology to dig deeper into what they can find and see how the printer could help in working with those cells as much as possible. There are an endless amount of things that can be done using such technology.

Issues Related To Electronic Medical Records

Electronic Medical record example
Example of an electronic medical record

Regardless of the growth related to computer technology and medicine, many of the medical encounters are still being documented using paper records. Electronic medical records have a number of documented advantages, yet the use of it is still relatively sparse.

The Purpose Behind Medical Records

The main goal of medical records is to serve as a source for clinical observations and patient analysis. Any records with an interaction with a patient will usually start off with the medical history of the patient and then a physical examination. The history generally contains the patient’s main complaint such as a skin rash or chest or stomach pain as well as any other pertinent symptoms to the main complaint. The physical exam will contain a list of the physical findings like enlarged lymph nodes or abdominal tenderness. This process is then followed by assessments that will adhere to the direct problem and then a plan for a diagnosis or treatment will be put into place.

Issues Surrounding Electronic Medical Records

Various issues have been recently identified with EMR (Electronic Medical Record). Many of these problems have been related to computer down-time, lack in standards, increase in provider time and threats related to patient confidentiality. A specific amount of studies conducted have suggested that electronic-order entries increase on the time doctors spend on entering these orders. In other studies it has been suggested that residents in hospitals needed around 44 minutes extra every day when utilizing computerized entries. This has however, resulted in the development of methods to streamline these order entries.

EMR Cartoon
A joke poking fun at EMR’s

Another real concern surrounding EMR systems would be computer down-time. This means that doctors may be faced with the threat of not being able to access the required information on a patient when it is needed. However, the increase related to computer reliability in computer systems is beginning to diminish these concerns.

A far more significant problem that is related to EMR systems is the lack-of-standards for interchanging information. Even though there are standards in place for aspects such as billing information, test results and diagnosis codes, there are no consensus in relation to the areas such as the symptoms and signs of the patient, procedure codes, test interpretations and radiology. The related issues to these standards are associated with a large amount of the clinical information that is “locked” in what is known as “narrative text.”

The last concern related to EMR systems is the issue surrounding patient confidentiality and security. However, this particular problem already exists and is independent from EMR due to the fact that much of the medical information that is abstracted from these paper records exists in the electronic repositories. A number of privacy experts have already documented threats on how this information is misused.

Patient confidentiality
Patient Confidentiality is an issue

While there are a few that fear that EMR can exacerbate these issues, many others have agreed that the computer-based records with the right amount of security aspects in place have the potential to be far more secure than paper based medical documents.

Modern medicine comes online: how putting Wikipedia articles through a medical journal’s traditional process can get free, reliable information into as many hands as possible.

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Despite its popularity in medical circles, Wikipedia endures skepticism. Often used to gather information, it is rarely considered accurate or complete enough to guide treatment decisions In the face of this, clini…

Despite its popularity in medical circles, Wikipedia endures skepticism. Often used to gather information, it is rarely considered accurate or complete enough to guide treatment decisions In the face of this, clinicians and trainees turn to resources like UpToDate with greater frequency and confidence because in clinical medicine, a small error can make a big difference.    In this issue of Open Medicine, we've published the first ever formally peer-reviewed, and edited, Wikipedia article.  The clinical topic is Dengue Fever.  Though there may be a need for shorter, more focused clinical articles published elsewhere as this one expands, it is anticipated that the Wikipedia page on Dengue will be a reference against which all others can be compared.  Though it might be decades before we see an end to Dengue, perhaps the end to exhaustive or expensive searches about what yet needs to be done, can bring it sooner.