Q: As a result of the new health care law, I am evaluating electronic health record (EHR) systems. What do I need to consider from a risk management perspective?
A: More than 40 percent of physician practices have adopted electronic health records (EHRs), according to InformationWeek. And while there are many advantages to EHRs, there are pitfalls as well.
Benefits of EHRs include easier and faster review of patient information, notifications of completed and required labs, tests, prescription refills, etc., as well as alerts on medication allergies and drug contraindications. EHRs reduce the amount of storage space needed, eliminate chart filing and – with the development of EHR networks and the Health Information Exchange Initiative – allow for a more effective method of exchanging medical information among physicians, hospitals and other health care providers.
But the pitfalls include reduced productivity as staff members learn the technology, a costly set-up, continuing maintenance and training costs, and system failure. Technical limits also are of concern; drop-down lists may not fully describe patients’ medical conditions.
When moving from paper charts to EHR systems, risk management experts suggest you consider the following to safeguard your practice:
- Data loss or data destruction
- Unauthorized use of the system
- Inaccurate or incomplete entries
- Inappropriate correction of errors
- Inadequate data back-up
- Poor quality scanned documents
- Unauthorized printing
- Ignoring or turning off automated alerts for test results, medication warnings, etc.
Physicians insured by ProAssurance may contact our Risk Management department for prompt answers to liability questions by calling (800) 292-1036 or via email.