Why the Healthcare Industry is Going Paperless

Posted by Sarah Becker Tue, 24 Jun 2014 15:27:00 GMT

The implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a more comprehensive and complex system of healthcare offerings, requires new administration tools to ensure the provision of healthcare services to all Americans. In order to diagnose and treat all patients efficiently, individual healthcare professionals and healthcare teams must have access to clinical information.

Traditional Health Information Repository

Conventionally, medical records were a paper repository for information being reviewed or used for clinical, research, administrative, and financial purposes. These paper-based records were markedly limited in terms of accessibility, and were available to only one user at a time. They were also updated manually, which resulted in delays of record completion and room for error. The physician was responsible for the upkeep and documentation processes, and authorized the release of information; patients seldom viewed their medical records.  

Alongside limited accessibility and manual upkeep, lack of security is also a pitfall of the paper-based medical record. Access was controlled by doors, locks, identification cards, and tedious sign-out procedures for authorized users. Unauthorized access to patient information triggered no alerts. 

Secure Access to Patient Records for Physicians from their Home Office

Today, one of the key challenges faced by the healthcare industry is improving patient care with new technologies, while simultaneously maintaining patient confidentiality, streamlining operations, and decreasing costs.

Bearing this in mind, an increasing number of healthcare organizations are opting to implement secure remote access and mobile wireless solutions to improve efficiency, patient care, and increase data accuracy. 

By means of online remote access or wireless technology, healthcare professionals can examine patient charts, view diagnostic images, schedule appointments, and communicate with hospital staff from home.  

Benefits of Paperless Medical Information Repositories

Healthcare organizations can remotely access electronic medical information. This helps in a multitude of ways including reducing costs, inefficiencies and clerical errors. By expanding accessibility, productivity is increased and overall patient care is improved. 

Additionally, remote access technology decreases overall communication costs since telephone, mobile phone, fax and pager usage is suppressed in favor of electronic communication. Fundamentally, this translates to better, faster care. 

Secure Virtual Private Network (VPN) Technology

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are proven to be the most secure method of providing connectivity between remote sites and access to hospital resources. VPNs produce tunnels (secure, encrypted connections) between two locations through another network, such as the Internet.  

VPNs are well-suited for site-to-site connections amongst laboratories, clinics, and mobile practitioners, whilst concurrently enabling large, constant data transfers between insurance providers and hospital data centers.  

Furthermore, VPNs also allow controlled access within a single physical location to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data on a large network. For instance, finance or human resources departments may implement a VPN as a means of controlling access to confidential files. 

Conclusion

Businesses everywhere are using the Internet to their advantage. Web-based applications enable organizations to share data and distribute applications, thereby increasing accessibility and maximizing efficiency. For the healthcare industry, the implementation of a VPN provides secure remote access and improves patient care, whilst also being cost-effective.

Author: Hazel Farrugia

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