Businesses share information back and forth every day and no one thinks twice about it. No matter how sensitive a company’s data may be, people seem to have faith that that information is, to all intents and purposes, secure. When it comes to sharing health information between hospitals or physicians, people start to question whether or not it’s such a good idea.
In order to keep up with the evolution of society as a whole, hospitals and clinics are going to have to get onboard with technological advances in health care IT. Patients demand speed, accuracy and convenience in every aspect of their lives. They shop online, bank online and date online. Now, they want to manage their health care online, and they want their health care providers to do the same. While it’s not being suggested that the health care industry should just jump right in with both feet, it is recommended that they stop dragging their feet and start thinking of ways to keep up with changing times without compromising their patients’ privacy.
Vice-president of client services at Corepoint Health Sonal Patel shared with Healthcare IT News her thoughts about how health care facilities can smoothly make the transition to using health information exchanges (HIE).
First she recommends that the transition be gradual. Every health care facility is unique, regardless of its size. What works for one might not necessarily work for another. So, each health care facility should have establish an HIE protocol that is tailored to its needs and the needs of its patients and not try to copy what another facility is doing.
Training is a must. Once standards and policies have been set, health care employees have to be taught how to use the system properly and effectively. The most important thing is patient outcomes. Using HIEs can vastly improve patient care by eliminating delay and increasing the accuracy of patients’ health information. Medic alert jewelry may not become obsolete, but people could become less dependent on it if their health information is already available through HIEs.
As a new system is being implemented, it’s important to be adaptable. It’s going to take time for people to learn how to use HIEs, and there will probably be several changes of direction until the right system has been established for a particular facility.
Patience is a virtue. Implementation could take longer for one facility than it does for another. And transitioning to HIEs isn’t a process that any health care facility should want to rush. Trying to get things done quickly could lead to costly mistakes.
Health information is every bit as sensitive as financial information, probably more so. But if physicians are willing to trust in the safety of e-commerce sites like Amazon.com, and they trust that their banks’ websites are secure enough to do their banking online, then why are they so afraid to trust that the health care industry will be able take the same, if not better, care to protect the privacy of their patients’ personal health information when using HIEs?
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