Personal Health Record and Confidentiality

Abstract

A personal health record is a system that allows patients to access, save, handle, and share information about their wellbeing with physicians. It enables doctors to track the medical history of a patient, thereby making informed decisions. Many people believe that a PHR empowers patients, giving them full control of their welfare. Moreover, it enhances patient-doctor interaction and helps medics to offer personalized care. The PHR, together with the EMR, promote efficiency in hospital settings and improve safety by reducing potential errors. The high cases of medical identity theft demand individuals to protect their health records. In addition, hospital administrators are advised to regulate the access of patient data to guarantee privacy, confidentiality, and security.

Personal Health Record

A personal health record (PHR) refers to an electronic repository that a patient uses to store their health-related data confidentially and safely. Baudendistel et al. (2015) argue that a PHR acts as a communication medium between healthcare providers and patients. Many people have challenges in distinguishing between a PHR and an electronic health record (EHR). Health facilities keep and operate EHRs, which comprise of clinical information such as patients’ medical history as compiled by physicians.

On the other hand, a patient has full control of a PHR and stores health data from diverse sources, including home monitoring devices, pharmacies, and providers. Ford, Hesse, and Huerta (2016) contend that intensified utilization of PHRs helps to minimize medical errors and allows the provision of quality health services. Baudendistel et al. (2015) regard a PHR as the ultimate solution to the lack of synergy and disjointed communication witnessed in many EHR systems. The PHR guarantees provision of quality healthcare by supporting personalized service delivery.

Concepts of PHR

The PHR is looted on the opinion that it empowers patients, enabling them to monitor and manage their health records. Additionally, the majority of the people who use PHR say that it enhances patient-doctor relationship. According to Ford et al. (2016), the application of PHR ensures that patients take control of their wellbeing. They identify and mitigate conditions that could lead to illnesses or affect their health, rather than leaving this responsibility to medical personnel.

Baudendistel et al. (2015) cite the act of filing specific data in the PHR, like blood sugar level, nutrition, and weight as helpful in creating awareness amid patients. The sick understand the factors that they ought to consider to guarantee their health. A study of diabetes patients found that the use of PHR helped in managing haemoglobin A1C (Ozok, Wu, & Gurses, 2017). Nonetheless, a significant attribute of the PHR as an empowering instrument lies in its capacity to connect patients to physicians, therefore enabling the use of diverse approaches to health care.

Most patients cite functionality as one of the factors that encouraged them to embrace PHR. They argue that this system improved their relationship with physicians and aided in the provision of patient-centered services. As Ford et al. (2016) state, a PHR serves as a guide during interactions between a patient and a doctor, thereby making their communications productive. Moreover, it helps to widen discussions amid patients and physicians, hence deliberating on the most apposite treatment procedures or health-related behavior to adopt. Many people agree that a PHR enables doctors to provide personalized services to patients. It helps them to track the medical history of an individual, as a result understanding the correct medical approach or drugs to administer.

Importance of the Electronic Medical Records

The electronic medical records (EMRs) are associated with numerous benefits to patients and healthcare facilities. One of the benefits of EMR is hat it boosts efficiency and productivity. As per Ozok et al. (2017), it is important to ensure that patient’s data is accessible to persons who require it at all times. An EMR allows easy retrieval of patient information, therefore minimizing the wastage of time and money. It facilitates electronic order entry, which is critical to eliminating the cases of replication that can be costly to both the patient and hospitals.

Rezaeibagha, Win, and Susilo (2015) argue that an EMR helps to improve effectiveness by curtailing superfluous paperwork and allowing interoperability between different systems. Improved efficiency and productivity assist in the provision of quality services and guarantees patient safety. An EMR enhances security by ensuring that doctors have access to accurate and up-to-date medical records. Studies show that the use of EMRs helps to reduce death rate, especially among renal dialysis patients (Woollen et al., 2016).

This system offers precise treatment procedures that are helpful in dealing with kidney-related diseases. Once the doctors realize that a particular drug has side effects, they use the EMR to identify the patients who are using it and deactivate its prescription. Moreover, they leverage this system to liaise with other healthcare personnel to make sure that the drug is no longer recommended to patients.

Protection of Personal Health Information

The Health Information Protection Act (HIPA) recommends the safeguarding of patients’ information from unauthorized personnel. The protection of personal health information implies making sure that a patient’s health record is not available for unlawful use. Technological advancement has resulted in the rise in the cases of medical identity theft. Today, criminals steal patients’ information and exploit it for personal gain.

For instance, some individuals may use insurance information to procure medical procedures. Therefore, there is a need for people to make sure that they safeguard their health records. Woollen et al. (2016) maintain that patients can use different approached to protecting personal health information. They include using passwords to lock out unauthorized parties from accessing their medical records. Moreover, one can use encryption to secure data that is stored in portable gadgets like smartphones or tablets.

Privacy, Confidentiality, and Security

Privacy refers to the right of a person to keep their records from being divulged to others. The medical information of a patient is regarded as confidential and ought to be protected. Qian, Li, Zhang, and Han (2015) assert that this data range from diagnoses, laboratory results, progress note, to treatment procedures. Medical facilities require seeking the consent of a patient before sharing their information.

This does not imply that doctors should not access patient’s data. Instead, it means that physicians and other medical personnel must preserve the integrity of the information by ensuring that it does not leak to unauthorized people. In the medical setting, confidentiality and privacy are used interchangeably. However, Rezaeibagha et al. (2015) note that privacy relates to both physical being and data, while confidentiality touches on information only. The latter requires medical officials to protect patients against inapt leaking of their medical history. This entails limiting the type and amount of information that a given personnel can access.

Qian et al. (2015) define security as the preservation of data integrity, confidentiality, and availability. The increase in the rate of medical identity theft, and the need for constant exchange of data between clinicians, demand the protection of personal health records. It is difficult for a health facilitate to regulate the kind and amount of information that physicians share with their colleagues. Security involves conducting audit trails to determine the time particular information was accessed, for how long, and by whom.

Discussion

The PHR is a new concept in the medical field that is gaining popularity at a high rate. Many people admit that they prefer this system because it gives them a chance to manage their health. There is no doubt that PHR will be essential to patient care as more people become conscious of their wellbeing. It will also be influential in behavioral change as the public understands the activities that predispose it to diseases. The primary challenge that both the doctors and patients have to confront is guaranteeing the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of information. It is imperative to acknowledge that these challenges will not deter the adoption of PHR in the medical field. This system has proved to be effective in enhancing doctor-patient relationship; hence it is a prerequisite to quality service delivery.

Conclusion

The PHR allows patient to record and manage health information, making them accountable for their wellbeing. Most people embrace this system because it enhances patient-doctor connection and facilitates the provision of personalized services. The PHR, together with the EMR, improve efficiency in healthcare and guarantee patient safety. The EMR allows timely retrieval and sharing of accurate information between different departments within a hospital.

The increase in incidents of medical identity theft calls for protection of personal health information. Hospitals must make sure that unauthorized people do not access patients’ data. They have to also seek permission from the sick before disclosing their records. Limiting the level of information that different medical workers can access helps to guarantee privacy, confidentiality, and security of personal data.

References

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Ozok, A. A., Wu, H., & Gurses, A. P. (2017). Exploring patients’ use intention of personal health record systems: Implications for design. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 33(4), 265-279.

Qian, H., Li, J., Zhang, Y., & Han, J. (2015). Privacy-preserving personal health record using multi-authority attribute-based encryption with revocation. International Journal of Information Security, 14(6), 487-497.

Rezaeibagha, F., Win, K. T., & Susilo, W. (2015). A systematic literature review on security and privacy of electronic health record systems: Technical perspectives. Health Information Management Journal, 44(3), 23-38.

Woollen, J., Prey, J., Wilcox, L., Sackeim, A., Restaino, S., Raza, S. T., … Vawdrey, D. (2016). Patient experiences using an inpatient personal health record. Applied Clinical Informatics, 7(2), 446-460.