How Safe Are Medical Patient Portals?

Oct 1 | , , , , , ,

 

As health records begin to convert from paper to electronic, many speechoccupational and physical therapy patients may be wondering how safe their information is.

As part of your patient records, you must divulge personal data, including your medical history and home address. If this information is not properly safeguarded through secure means and regulations, it can be detrimental.

Electronic health records allow therapy providers to share medical information, schedule appointments and send bills to their patients via a patient portal. With the proper security measures and HIPAA compliance, patient portal software ensures the safety of your health records and allows you to get more involved with the management of your care.

Even so, you may be wondering whether or not the patient portal is safe for use after hearing breaking news of major corporations suffering electronic security breaches.

Are patient portals safe?
The truth is that patient portals are a safe and effective. Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), all health-related information must be kept confidential and secure. Therefore, any of your electronic medical records, billing information or other personal data stored in the patient portal must be safeguarded with high-level encryption and other security measures, or the practice can be fined for being in violation in HIPAA.

HIPAA also means that the practice cannot share your personal health information with anyone else without your authorization, and in addition to the patient portal software, the technology used in the clinic must comply with these regulations. What’s more, practices must also comply with the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), which focuses on the security and privacy of the electronic transmission of personal health information, which helps strengthen HIPAA.

In order to use a patient portal, you will also be required to register with a username and password, adding another security layer.

When you compare the use of a patient portal to conventional methods, Carestream.com pointed out that you can see that a patient portal is the more secure option as files on paper or discs can be lost easier, making private information more accessible to unauthorized individuals. Instead, all of your data is stored in one secure place using electronic health records (EHR) software that features a portal.

If you’re still feeling unsure about using a patient portal, you can always ask employees of the practice to explain in greater detail what security measures are taken in order to protect your information, such as:

  • Multi-tiered firewalls: Multiple levels of a computer system that work to block unauthorized access
  • Encryption: A safety measure that converts the original text of a message to encoded text through an algorithm
  • Portal monitoring: The clinic has a technology expert who monitors the portal for suspicious behavior or activity

 

This article is brought to you by PREFERRED Therapy Providers Inc. PREFERRED is the nation’s leading payor management services network. Our expertise is working with physical, occupational and speech therapy practices – from single clinics to multiple clinic locations.