EMR deployments juggle physician access, privacy issues

The need to transition to electronic medical records versus the need to protect patient privacy is prompting providers to strike delicate balances, according to a Wall Street Journal CIO Journal article published this week.

This has led to some providers creating "break glass" protocols on their EMR systems, wherein physicians who may find their access limited can override password protections if a patient requires lifesaving measures, according to the Journal.

"We have to create the right balance," Glenn Mamary, CIO of Hunterdon Healthcare System in New Jersey, told the newspaper. "If we lock it down too much we will be prohibiting [practitioners] from treating patients."

Mamary said the number of complaints from doctors who couldn't access patient records rose after the EMR system was installed last fall.

Along with the break glass protocols, Hunterdon IT personnel closely monitor the EMR system to make sure that physicians and other medical personnel are not accessing patient records where they have no existing care relationship, according to the Journal.

A survey by CDW Healthcare indicated that patients have far more trust that healthcare providers will keep their information secure compared to their employers or other institutions, according to Health IT Exchange. Close to half of the survey's respondents, however, said that EMRs will have a negative impact on health data privacy.

For more information:
- read the Wall Street Journal article
- check out the Health IT Exchange article