Status updates on medical records shouldn’t be the only backup

By Michael
June 12, 2012

Everybody loves seeing pictures of your family vacation or that sweet new water cooling system you put in your computer, but doctors are now using the same social media networks to share information with you about watching your weight and stopping the sniffles. While it may not have progressed yet to the point of posting LOLCat images about your diet plan’s success, social media without backup data could be causing complications in the care of medical records already.

Code Blue on electronic records

Back in the Dark Ages of the mid-90’s, Congress created something called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that required those involved with patient healthcare at all levels take certain steps to safeguard the privacy and security of data. Over the years, the House noticed HIPAA wasn’t really working all that well. Since 2009, millions of people have experienced compromised data resulting from shoddy data management within the healthcare industry.

Seeing as the only thing Congress can really do in these instances is pass more laws, that’s exactly what they did. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) is supposed to make electronic medical records (EMR) the wave of the future, with physicians better able to update and transmit patient data for comprehensive care.

And IT shakes its head

Congress failed to reinforce that putting all records into one basket is basically the same as begging for data to be stolen, and goes directly against many disaster recovery methods.

As for integrating social media, that was really an idea concocted by physicians who may have felt frustrated with the goldfish memories the majority of their patients have. According to the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, before a person even gets out of the office they’ve forgotten anywhere from 40 to 80 percent of everything they’ve just been told, and if an individual goes through voluntary amnesia that quickly they won’t be able to comply with “doctor’s orders.”

Even if doctors insist on using Facebook and Twitter to keep patients up-to-date on ailments, medications and best practices, they should take steps with backup tape management to create alternative copies of these sensitive records. Compliance is just one part of the equation here – safeguarding information and preventing theft or loss should take priority, even if some communication has to be sacrificed.

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