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An electronic health record (EHR) is an automated, paperless and online medical record for which patient medical data is entered by eligible providers (EP), such as nurses and physicians. An EHR contains valuable and pertinent automated medical information, including:
While EHRs are meant to be shared by EPs for enhanced patient treatment and less human medical error, as well as cost containment, many EHR concerns and complexities arise when considering privacy issues, especially regarding sensitive health data, such as behavioral health information.
Electronic health records are also known as electronic medical records (EMR).
Electronic health records may be viewed by other patient care EPs, as well as patients. Although EHRs are designed to further interoperability or health information exchanges (HIE), IT personnel must work to tailor databases to prevent the automatic release of sensitive data for the preservation of doctor-patient relationships, as well as secure data to prevent release to marketing firms and malicious types of unauthorized users. Privacy advocates believe EHR vendors do not provide proper database security. To combat this serious issue, privacy protection laws are continuously gaining legislative support, as existing regulations do not entirely take into account protected health information (PHI).
EHR implementation is required by law under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, also known as the Stimulus Act, by the year 2015, for all U.S. health care organizations claiming Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement and incentive payments. Many expect this deadline to be extended due to the difficulty of nationwide implementation. Those that find EHR implementation most arduous are small private practices without ample IT resources and rural-based health facilities. EHR implementation began long before legislative requirements were established for teaching hospitals, large enterprises and other health care organizations that typically have a plethora of IT professionals.