EHR Data: Protect and Serve!

Source: Thinkstock via EHR Intelligence

Results of a recent a recent JAMA study as reported in EHR Intelligence reveal that a disturbing amount of hospitals fail to comply with federal and state regulations for patient EHR and paper health records requests. This is especially damaging in today’s healthcare retail climate, where patients understandably want to know what their costs are.

Researchers made five attempts to reach each medical records department. Hospitals were considered unreachable on each attempt if the call was not answered, went to voice mail, or if the automated answering system did not offer an option to speak with a representative.

Researchers found only 53 percent of hospitals in the study provided patients the option on forms to obtain their entire health records.

“For individual categories of requestable information on the forms, as few as 9 hospitals (11 percent) provided the option of selecting release of physician orders and as many as 73 hospitals (88 percent) provided the option of selecting release of laboratory results,” wrote researchers.

“Most hospitals (76 [92 percent]) provided the option of another category for requesting information not explicitly listed on the form,” the team added.

However, every participating hospital said they were able to release complete health records to patients when researchers contacted hospitals’ medical records departments by phone. The fact that information provided online and information provided through medical records departments seems to be inconsistent, to say the least, revealed a real problem in medical records request processes.

“Two hospitals reported not being able to release records electronically if the records were originally in a paper format,” researchers said.

Also, costs for records requests were all over the place:

“For a 200-page record, the cost of release ranged from $0.00 to $281.54, based on the 29 hospitals that disclosed costs,” the team wrote.

Meanwhile, the cost of a 200-page record ranged from free of charge to $541.50 among hospitals who disclosed health records release costs over the phone.

Of the 82 hospitals that communicated costs over the phone, 59 percent required that patients pay more than the federally-recommended flat rate of $6.50 for patient EHRs.

Consistent patient data access is just one of the challenges hospitals face. A recent IBM Security Report reveals the astounding cost of data breaches. Their research reveals, for instance, the global average cost of a data breach is up 6.4 percent over the previous year to $3.86 million. The average cost for each lost or stolen record containing sensitive and confidential information also increased by 4.8 percent year over year to $148.

OrboAccess Intelligent Payment Automation for Healthcare Payments is the solution to protect and serve patient data – – meeting and exceeding the guidelines set by MyHealthEData initiative, and preventing financial cataclysmic data breaches (remember Facebook?) via top-line security.

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