Do you know Medical Records Management: A Guide? Patients’ needs for current and future medical care, as well as for insurance, employment, and other reasons, are served by medical records. In accordance with their professional obligations to respect the privacy of patients’ personal information, doctors have an ethical responsibility to maintain medical records and release information services.
Medical personnel can easily access and use patient health information since it is managed and organized in a way that facilitates healthcare operations. A patient record is created when a person walks into a clinic or medical facility for the first time. This calls for the upkeep of confidentiality and integrity as well as updating, modifying, and collaborating with other providers. Maintaining health records is essential because the data they contain affects how patients are treated by doctors.
More than 85% of clinicians utilize electronic medical records (EMR) systems today to manage physical information in a digital environment. Furthermore, following the passage of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), medical personnel are now compelled to adhere to strict government laws to preserve patient privacy.
- 1 The Features of a Good Medical Records Management System
- 2 The Policy Environment Around Medical Records Management
- 3 Information Release and Records Access
- 4 How can Organizations Ensure Best Practices in Medical Records Management?
The Features of a Good Medical Records Management System
The major objective of any healthcare professional is to offer the patient with the best care possible, beginning with the welcome and continuing through the diagnosis and treatment. However, it is crucial to maintain track of all the information and events that are pertinent to each patient and to record it for future reference.
The process of managing all the information pertaining to a practice or a patient, including but not limited to the patient’s history, clinical findings, diagnostic test results, pre-and post-operative care, patient progress, and medications, is known as medical records management, also referred to as health information management (HIM) or health records information management (HRIM).
The qualities of the optimal system for managing medical records are as follows:
- Quick and simple access for prompt retrieval
- Accurate labeling and organization through proper setup
- Adequate checks and balances to guarantee the privacy, reliability, and accuracy of the records being created and managed
- Data security to prevent data loss, alteration, and illegal use
- Adhering to all legal requirements
- Secure and thorough disposal techniques.
The Policy Environment Around Medical Records Management
In order to preserve patient data and modernize the management of medical records, HIPAA was created in 1996. It contains recommendations for particular records management techniques, such as the following:
Storage and Security of Medical Records
- Organizations must identify and proactively protect against anticipated security threats in order to maintain compliance.
- All employees should receive medical record security training.
- Access should be restricted to locations where documents are kept or available
- Suitable equipment, programs, and procedures must be implemented to keep an eye on access
Information Release and Records Access
HIPAA safeguards both the patient’s right and the representative designated by the patient to access records. A provider or insurer may send a patient’s medical records only with permission. Regarding the disclosure of medical records, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA), which was passed in 2003, offers still another layer of consumer protection. To reduce the danger of consumer fraud and identity theft, FACTA severely restricts the sharing of medical records with affiliates by providers and insurance companies.
HIPAA often takes precedence over any state laws that might apply to medical records. However, HIPAA essentially gives the states autonomy over record keeping. The state, record, and institution at issue determine the complexity and wide variety of criteria. For instance, hospitals in Florida are required to keep patient data for seven years, whereas doctors are only required to keep them for five. In Nevada, providers must maintain records for five years or until minor patients reach the age of 23.
Destruction of Medical Records Data
The process of erasing information so that it cannot be used fraudulently or criminally is known as data destruction. HIPAA and FACTA both have stringent protocols for deleting data. The following techniques must be used to destroy paper records: shredding, pulverizing, burning, or pulping. Electronic data must be wiped using overwriting software or magnetic methods to wipe off computer hard drives.
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How can Organizations Ensure Best Practices in Medical Records Management?
The maintenance of medical records may be challenging in today’s rapidly changing healthcare environment. However, mismanaged medical data seriously increase the risk of not having easy access to health information that could save or alter lives. If there are no regulations or frameworks in place, there may be legal dangers in addition to the possibility that patients would perceive your clinic as outdated.
The location and tracking of records are improved through optimal medical records management, even for those that aren’t frequently used. It can also protect vital historical data about a medical facility in the case of a disaster or a legal obligation. It can also be straightforward to distribute or transfer information between offices with a records management system. It might lower the possibility of lawsuits, lower operating costs, and boost employee productivity, mobility, and effectiveness.