When it comes to personal health information, privacy and security will always be paramount. Healthcare providers are, in a way, knowledge workers, and deal with confidential and oftentimes very sensitive information on a regular basis. A nurse is responsible for protecting their patient’s privacy or, at least, avoiding any actions that might jeopardize it. Healthcare professionals are required to have a working understanding of our patients’ most personal and confidential concerns. As a result, it is critical that healthcare personnel protect their patients’ information and respect their privacy at all times.
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Because patient privacy and security of patient information are so critical, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is taught in the first semester of nursing school. The emergence and greater usage of electronic health records (EHR) has resurrected debates and concerns about patient privacy. The advantages of computerized health information will be harmed unless healthcare professionals and the general public can be ensured that health data in any and all formats is maintained in confidentiality (Cohen & Mello, 2019). Despite the scale of recent technological developments, the automatization of the industry, for better and for worse, is not yet present enough to avoid any substantial human involvement.
EHRs provide significant advantages for both patients and physicians, ensuring the provided information is more manageable and protected with dedicated software. They do, however, carry with them a new set of privacy problems. Patients have a reason to be concerned about the security of their information, given the surge in internet hacking and the attention surrounding such incidents (Cohen & Mello, 2019). When it comes to health information sharing, the healthcare community and the government are pushing for increased access and collaboration, but this also increases the risk of records. The growing volume of health data created, which is shared with a variety of entities and aggregated, raises worries about maintaining the privacy of sensitive data.
From the perspective of the end user, healthcare staff must take extra precautions to safeguard patient privacy. Locking computer displays, logging out when not in use, being aware of who is in the vicinity when accessing data, and paying attention to someone who may be able to observe your computer screen while you are working are all examples of EHR privacy. Additionally, healthcare facilities might look into providing the patients themselves with better education on the methods of protection of their medical identities. Actions such as monitoring one’s health records and regular check-ins with healthcare services providers might save a patient thousands of dollars or even personal reputation.
The safety and privacy of patients’ information can be linked back to the ethical guidelines and pillars of the medical profession. Healthcare specialists have a moral obligation towards their patients when it comes to protecting their confidential information. In the case of healthcare informatics it transforms into a commitment to monitoring the existing security measures. To contribute to this effort, the state of New York became a part of the Health Information Security and Privacy Collaboration as one of its key participants. NYHISPC is encouraging a state-wide conversation about how to preserve patients’ health information’s privacy and increase security in a computerized and networked healthcare delivery system (“New York Health Information Security and Privacy Collaborative”, 2021). The New York Health Information Security and Privacy Collaborative is one of thirty-three state collaborations and the territory of Puerto Rico that are subcontractors in the federally funded the HISPC. The NYHISPC is bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders to establish consensus-based solutions that protect patients’ privacy while allowing safe electronic healthcare information interchange.
Structurally, a resemblance can be drawn between EHRs and other platforms that have recently been largely digitalized. EHRs, arguably, are partially analogous to online banking in the ways general public perceives their benefits and threats. Many individuals are wary of online banks because they prefer the image of having a physical bank with real premises and real money where they can go in and withdraw cash if necessary. Similarly, because EHRs are stored on a computer and in hyperspace, they appear to be less secure than paper charts. Because they can be felt and seen, paper charts are genuine. They may also be secured behind powerful vault doors to keep hackers and robbers out, giving them a great sense of security (VDH).
Furthermore, this parallel can be expanded upon to compare it with the ways non-believers interact with the concept of God. Many people rationalize their non-belief in God in the same way. It is a typical approach for non-believers to refuse to contemplate the existence of anything beyond what they can see or interact with. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” says Hebrews (King James Bible, 11:1). Believers know that God exists because the Bible says so, and thus they can see proof of His existence everywhere in their everyday life. They don’t need to touch or see Him since they believe in His existence. In this case, the proof and the belief are cyclical, yet the belief remains an epicenter, a cause to everything, and a reason believers are able to perceive the world as God’s creation.
Cohen, I. G., & Mello, M. M. (2019). Big data, big tech, and protecting patient privacy. Jama, 322(12), 1141-1142.
King James Bible, 2021. Cambridge University Press (Original Work Published 1769).
New York Health Information Security and Privacy Collaborative. Health.ny.gov. (2021).