For many industries, technology has been extremely important to the expansion and innovation of their processes and outcomes. This is especially true in the case of the healthcare industry and the advancements made to medical IT. Particularly, this has given patients a far greater scope of control over their medical records – something that healthcare providers must remain aware of to leverage these changes to their advantage.
Electronic Medical Records
Think about it for a moment: how many different doctors are you likely to see over your lifetime, or even during one calendar year? By the very nature of their industry, these doctors need to be able to access the most up-to-date information available about you in order to do the best job they can in treating you… and not only you, each and every patient they have. This is far easier said than done. For one thing, think about how many documents we’re discussing here… not only do these doctors each see a considerable number of patients, each visit by each patient would presumably result in another stack of files to be processed and retained.
Filing cabinets and the like were once the method of choice for sorting and storing these documents, but as people see the doctor more and more often, the practicality and effectiveness of these solutions have decreased significantly. Now, electronic medical record (EMR) solutions make a better choice, as patient records can be securely stored in a digital environment where they are accessible to the doctor as needed. While a physician still needs authorization to access these files, EMR solutions have made healthcare much more efficient, convenient, and secure.
Speaking of multiple doctors and up-to-date records, blockchain technology is another innovation that is set to optimize the use of computing in the medical field and the accountability of physicians. Using blockchain, not only can patients have access to the documents needed to keep abreast of their treatment, but doctors from different practices and healthcare systems could share a complete and inalterable record of a patient’s entire history.
Due to the blockchain’s data permanence, these records would not be able to be tampered with without creating a record of when it was changed. As a result, blockchain could be used to create a unified network that would ensure that all of an individual’s physicians had access to the same information, a very useful (potentially life-saving) resource in the healthcare industry.
HIPAA Compliance-Mandated Security
HIPAA (or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) was intended to protect the privacy of a patient’s health information by restricting what can be shared. A patient’s Social Security number, name, treatments and ailments, and their payment information are all protected under HIPAA, which means that any organization within the healthcare or medical industries that utilizes these data points have to comply with HIPAA’s rules or face hefty fines.
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