EHR Data Integrity: A Journey, Not a Destination

Between HIPAA compliance and data authentication rules, maintaining data integrity within a hospital or health system might seem like a chore, but the end result of better patient care must be kept in mind, said Barry Herrin, JD, partner at Smith Moore Leatherwood.

Mr. Herrin spoke at AHIMA's 2011 Legal EHR Summit on Aug. 15 in Chicago, and he acknowledged the process of electronic health record collection is very confusing. However, from both a legal and clinical standpoint, EHRs facilitate patient care and are here to stay. "If you view data integrity as a compliance or technology system design task, it is a destination," Mr. Herrin said. "If you view data integrity as a process of creating and maintaining the best official patient record possible, it is a journey."

Data integrity is viewed very differently from the provider's and patient's perspectives, Mr. Herrin said. Providers want to be able to input the necessary information and find that same data later. Patients are like Missouri, he said. They want to "show me" how information is stored and ensure that their data is rendered secure. Because providers want to see everything and don't trust patient-controlled information and because patients now play an active role in their medical record, it leads to less coordination with personal health records, Mr. Herrin said.

"We are a nation of Scottish crofters when it comes to our healthcare system," he said. "Why do we answer the same questions? There's a frustration with the lack of coordination in the system."

Ultimately, the onus of ensuring that an EHR covers all legal ground is on each hospital or health system. He said EHR systems fail when the functioning processes aren't replicated in the electronic form, and he adds that healthcare entities must discipline people who break privacy compliance issues and must protect patient data if the system goes down due to an attack or if documents are corrupted.

Related Articles on EHR Data:

4 Things to Know in Case of a Hospital Information System Crash
Could There Be a Correlation Between EHRs and Improved Life Expectancies?
Digitizing Healthcare Involves Grasping the Scope, Finding Value of EHR Data

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