Retrieving Electronic Medical Records - Will Your Firm Be Able to Open Them?

As the health care industry moves to electronic medical records, so too must the legal industry that relies on these records for proving medical cases. But what if you obtain electronic records and do not have the technology for opening and viewing them? Whether your firm is considering investing in an electronic medical records retrieval system or outsourcing records retrieval, you must be able to open and view your retrieved records.

Fortunately, interoperability amongst electronic health record systems is becoming more standardized. Currently, the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) certifies such systems in order to make sure that security, compatibility, and functionality are consistent. With over 75 percent of all systems certified by CCHIT, compatibility amongst systems will become less of a problem as more health care and legal customers demand certification and interoperability. To ensure the greatest compatibility possible, choose a CCHIT certified electronic health records retrieval system if at all possible.

If your firm invests in its own records retrieval system, the system will likely have built-in tools for opening and viewing electronic medical records. If you outsource your health records retrieval needs, your records retrieval service will provide you with the records you need in a format that you can deal with. This could be anything from a paper copy of the health records to scanned images or electronic files such as PDF files.

Of utmost importance with any medical records retrieval system is HIPAA compliance. Under HIPAA's Security Rule, private health care records must be protected. This includes during transmission. Therefore, all electronic health records must be protected during transmission. In short, you can't simply email a PDF version of a patient's record because basic email is not secure. Because of this, electronic records are encrypted before being transmitted. Encrypted email ensures that the record can't be opened by anyone other than the intended recipient (who must have the "keys" to decrypt the message).

Online records retrieval systems must be HIPAA-compliant as well. If you'll be retrieving your medical records from an online system, the website will use an encrypted channel, much like when you order products online and enter your credit card information on secure webpages.

HIPAA regulates how protected health information is stored and shared. In addition to addressing security, HIPAA also address accessibility. The spirit of HIPAA is to ensure that those who need to access the information can do so while those that do not need access cannot access it. As an attorney who needs health records to represent clients, you have a legitimate need for accessing the protected health information. Whether the medical records you receive are in paper or electronic form, the delivery method must be secure. Your records retrieval provider will handle the technical requirements as well as offer you delivery choices that you can work with.

Sunbelt tailors a wide range of litigation support solutions specializing in a worry-free approach empowering litigators to turn their full attention to winning their case.

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