The first EHR systems were known as clinical information systems developed in the early 1960’s by academic medical centers, the government, and industry in order to compile patient demographics and progress notes to be readily viewed and managed in one place. But, EHRs aren’t perfect and you can’t depend on the EHR alone to get the documentation right.
Malpractice claims in which EHRs “contributed to patient injury” have increased sharply in the past decade, through EHR-related issues. According to Coverys Insurance findings, the average indemnity paid for physicians’ medical malpractice claims increased 20 percent from 2010 to 2019 up to a total of $411,053.
Over the 10 years of claims analyzed, there was an average of 4.4 claims per every 100 physicians. Obstetrics and surgery have the highest claims rates.
It is critical to protect your practice from a potential EHR malpractice lawsuit by the following:
1. Regular Risk Assessments
Routine system checkups can save you from major losses in the future.
When you’re able to identify and prevent the disease in earlier stages, it saves you from major medical treatments later on. Similarly, when you constantly ensure your records are clean and updated, you’re able to catch any faults early on. The early evaluation will allow you to fix any mistakes to protect you from any legal issues later on.
You can also find any security gaps there which could lead to a destructive data breach.
2. Regular Vulnerability & Penetration Assessments
The medical billing services system may have a vulnerability factor that could lead to a cyber attack by penetrating their way to confidential information.
You may also find several people referring to this as “network assessment” which allows you to scan through the entire system and identify any vulnerability in your organization. Regular check-ups allow you to fix the system at the earliest and avoid any potential attack by finding loopholes in the unpatched systems, virus firewall, and more.
After fixing all the vulnerabilities do perform a thorough penetration or pen test to ensure there has not been a breach in the system.
3. Use Encryption
Just like a doctor’s handwriting can be deciphered by a professional medic, you need an encrypted code for your EHR system that only you can decipher.
The patient data needs to be properly protected at all times; encryption adds a layer of protection that makes it difficult for anyone to misuse the information. Everything from the medical organization’s laptops to emails should be encrypted. This is because encryption renders data useless and guards it from prying system hackers and malpractices.
All data being used and recorded should be encrypted.
4. Regular System Updates & Patches
Just like vaccines, you need to update your systems to catch and fix any problems early on.
New updates repair outdated security holes and fix or remove any existing bugs. Plus, you also benefit from new features that provide more security for your data. Outdated features are removed so security is much more efficient. Most online malpractices take place due to the unpatched security holes, which cybercriminals use to breach the system.
By updating your system and performing backup files to an off site server once a day, you can patch these holes and save the data from any breaches. Store all EHR data with a cloud hosting provider that adheres to the rules mentioned within the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
5. The Right Medical Billing System
You need to hire the right medical billing services provider who can work with a strict ethical code.
Medical EHR service providers such as Pettigrew Medical can work with your existing system for billing, credentialing, and coding for your full cycle revenue management.
The Way Forward
Avoiding malpractice is no different today than it was twenty years ago. It just comes down to giving good care and making sure you document accurately. EHRs-if used properly and carefully-can be a big help in doing that.
Finding the right partner to actively provide you with the best services and follow the right ethical code while doing so can assist in staying compliant. Patients are trusting you with sensitive information.
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