Vendors, stakeholders aim to dispel privacy myths about EHRs

Healthcare IT vendors and other stakeholders at a recent Capitol Hill briefing sought to dispel what they called "privacy myths" concerning electronic health records.

"People are scaring lawmakers about data flying around the Internet," said Justin Barnes, a board member of the Confidentiality Coalition and vice president of marketing at Greenway Medical Technologies. "You cannot Google patient health information stored in EHRs or in other secure HIT solutions."

The EHR industry is secure through market forces, Barnes said. Healthcare IT (HIT) and EHR companies are inherently incentivized to use highest levels of security and encryption. No EHR company wants to lose their credibility, as it would fold their company, he said.

According to Barnes, patient health information stored in EHRs is highly secure. "The HIT and EHR industry has spent hundreds of millions of dollars creating secure and encrypted solutions for use today," he said.

Anyone inside a medical practice can essentially access a paper file, Barnes said. Disclosure violations occur due to paper files and security violations, not privacy issues. Paper files can be copied or removed without knowledge of staff.

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