While the benefits of paperless medical records are clear – including the ability for a clinician to access a patient’s health information virtually anywhere at anytime on a mobile device - the use of mobile devices to create, store and access health information does create legal issues. One of the most important is security and privacy issues related to the use of mobile health technology. This is especially true as the theft of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers continues to rise.
Indeed, it is so important that Lydia Washington, a director of practice management at the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) writes for the Journal of AHMIA, “[i]n addition to privacy and security policies, healthcare organizations…need to have policies that outline the conditions and acceptable uses of mobile devices that capture and store clinical information since that information becomes part of the health record.”
All healthcare providers who are using mobile technology to create, store and access health information should have a policy in place to address the proper and safe use of those mobile devices. Countless health care providers have been sued when laptops and desktops containing patient medical records have been stolen from their offices. The same holds true for mobile devices. Policies and procedures to prevent the theft of mobile devices containing a patient’s health information as well as securing the information from being accessed in the event of theft are critical to avoiding costly and expensive litigation.
Moreover, having a mobile technology policy in place will allow for effective and efficient e-discovery and litigation holds which could result in substantial savings to health care providers in the event of litigation. Health care providers who are considering adopting mobile health technologies should first consult with an attorney to make sure that proper policies and procedures are in place to protect a patient’s medical records.
For more information, contact Brian Wheeler at 540-443-3308.
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